‘Last Resort,’ Esper Says of Using Active-Duty Troops on Streets

‘Last Resort,’ Esper Says of Using Active-Duty Troops on Streets

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‘Last Resort,’ Esper Says of Using Active-Duty Troops on Streets

In remarks at odds with President Trump’s statements, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said he does not think active-duty troops should confront protesters.

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. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act. Well, I did know that we were going to the church. I was not aware of a photo-op — was happening. Of course, the president drags a large press pool along with him. Look, I do everything I can to try stay apolitical, and to try and stay out of situations that may appear political. National Guard forces did not fire rubber bullets or tear gas into the crowd as reported. Second, guardsmen were instructed to wear helmets and personal protective equipment for their own protection, not to serve as some form of intimidation. Third, military leaders, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were wearing field uniforms because that is appropriate uniform when working in a command center and meeting with troops in the streets. Fourth, it wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that we determined it was a National Guard helicopter that hovered low over a city block in D.C. Within an hour or so of learning of this, I directed the secretary of the Army to conduct an inquiry to determine what happened and why. And to report back to me.

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