Retired Marine Gen. John Allen speaks during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 28. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

The military is not a political prize. Politicians should take the advice of senior military leaders but keep them off the stage. The American people should not wonder where their military leaders draw the line between military advice and political preference. And our nation’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines should not wonder about the political leanings and motivations of their leaders.

Retired Marine Gen. John Allen and retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn weren’t introduced at the Democratic and Republican conventions, respectively, as “John” and “Mike.” They  were introduced as generals. As generals, they have an obligation to uphold our apolitical traditions. They have just made the task of their successors — who continue to serve in uniform and are accountable for our security — more complicated. It was a mistake for them to participate as they did. It was a mistake for our presidential candidates to ask them to do so.

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Raleigh, N.C.

The writer is former chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff.