Defense Secretary Opposes Use of Active-Duty Troops to Police US Cities

June 3, 2020 by Dan McCue
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper holds a news conference at the Pentagon, June 3, 2020. (DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders)

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday he opposes the use of active-duty military to police U.S. cities and contain current street protests over the death of George Floyd.

“I’ve always believed and continue to believe that the National Guard is best suited for performing domestic support to civil authorities in these situations in support of local law enforcement,” Esper said at a news conference at the Pentagon Wednesday.

“I say this not only as Secretary of Defense, but also as a former soldier and a former member of the National Guard, the option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations,” he added. “We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

Esper’s statement appears to put him at odds with President Donald Trump, who has warned state governors that he is willing to use the Insurrection Act of 1807 to send troops to “dominate” the streets if they can’t get a handle on the unrest.

Esper had already authorized the movement of about 1,300 active-duty Army units to military bases just outside the nation’s capital, but they have not entered the city — and defense officials said some of the troops were beginning to return to their home bases Wednesday.

Earlier Wednesday, the president appeared to be taking credit for the deployment of federal and other law enforcement officers to Washington,D.C., saying it offered a model to states on how to stop violence accompanying some protests nationwide.

Since the protests over Floyd’s death in police custody flared over the weekend, troops deployed to assist with protest response around the country have been National Guard forces under state control.

Asked whether Trump retains confidence in Esper, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday, “As of right now, Secretary Esper is still Secretary Esper, and should the president lose faith, we will all learn about that in the future.”

In The News

Health

Voting

Military

Senator: Military Justice Changes Must Go Beyond Sex Cases
Criminal Justice
Senator: Military Justice Changes Must Go Beyond Sex Cases

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is on the brink of success in her yearslong campaign to get sexual assault cases removed from the military chain of command. But getting over the finish line may depend on whether she can overcome wariness about broader changes she's... Read More

Pentagon Redirects Border Wall Funds To Defense Projects
Military
Pentagon Redirects Border Wall Funds To Defense Projects
June 17, 2021
by Daniel Mollenkamp

WASHINGTON- The U.S. Department of Defense has released its plan for the nearly $2.2 billion in funds that were redirected for the border wall under the Trump administration. The money will go to a broad set of improvements related to the armed forces, according to documents... Read More

Airstrikes Still a Possibility After Afghan Pullout
Defense
Airstrikes Still a Possibility After Afghan Pullout
June 10, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department may seek authorization to carry out airstrikes if the capital of Kabul or any other major city in Afghanistan is in danger of falling to the Taliban after the U.S. completes the withdrawal of its troops from the country in early... Read More

Space Force to Lead Rocket Cargo Vanguard Program
Military
Space Force to Lead Rocket Cargo Vanguard Program
June 9, 2021
by Reece Nations

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Air Force announced it has designated the United States Space Force as the lead service for its “Rocket Cargo Vanguard Program,” a science and technology effort intended to determine the viability of large commercial rockets for Department of Defense logistics... Read More

U.S. Military Expands Production of 'Low-Dead Space' Syringes
Health
U.S. Military Expands Production of 'Low-Dead Space' Syringes
May 25, 2021
by Daniel Mollenkamp

The Pentagon signed an agreement to expand the production of more efficient syringes, which it announced on Monday, as part of the country’s national response to coronavirus.  According to the agreement, the U.S. allocated $27.3 million in government funding to Retractable Technologies, Inc., a manufacturer that... Read More

War Authorizations Repeal Bills Get Bipartisan Support
Congress
War Authorizations Repeal Bills Get Bipartisan Support
May 21, 2021
by Reece Nations

WASHINGTON — The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday passed a pair of bills that would limit the president’s ability to expand military operations in the Middle East by repealing decades-old Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, or AUMFs. Legislation that would repeal the 1991... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top