“I am committed to fielding the most powerful military force the world has known by strengthening the bonds of our most valuable resource — our people. That is why we honor the American flag, which is the principal flag we are authorized and encouraged to display,” Esper wrote in the memo, a copy of which has been obtained by CNN.

“The flags we fly must accord with the military imperatives of good order and discipline, treating all our people with dignity and respect, and rejecting divisive symbols,” Esper added.

Esper presented the guidance Friday morning to senior Defense Department leaders and commanders and noted that flags are powerful symbols, particularly in the military community for whom flags embody common mission, common histories, and the special, timeless bonds of warriors, according to a Pentagon statement.