Esper orders hundreds of active-duty troops outside DC sent home day after reversal

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Key impeachment witness retires | Duckworth presses for information | Subpanel advances defense measure | Democrats press for end to military transgender ban 116 House Democrats push for end to transgender military ban following Supreme Court ruling Vindman, key impeachment witness, to retire from Army MORE is sending hundreds of active duty soldiers who had been on standby in the Washington, D.C., area back to their home base after reversing course on such a decision the day before.

A senior defense official confirmed to The Hill that the Pentagon “made the decision to return members of some of the active duty units in the capital region to their home base.”

The official added that military leaders “are continuously monitoring this dynamic situation,” and that the return of the remainder of the active duty service members will be “conditions-based.”

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The troops — reported by numerous outlets as from the 82nd Airborne Division based in Fort Bragg, N.C. — are part of the roughly 1,600 U.S. forces brought to the D.C. area but never used to respond to civil unrest that came with protests over the Minneapolis police killing of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, last week.

This marks the second time in as many days that Esper has ordered the troops home. On Wednesday morning, the Pentagon chief instructed forces to return home but changed his command later that day following a White House meeting, asking them to “to remain on alert” in the region for an additional 24 hours.

The change to diminish troop presence in the capital region comes after Esper made a signifiant break from White House messaging. On Wednesday, he told reporters he did not support invoking the Insurrection Act, an 1807 law that would allow President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE to deploy active-duty troops around the country to respond to the protests.

Trump on Monday threatened to deploy troops to quell protests if governors did not “dominate” and call in their National Guard. But in an interview recorded on Wednesday he indicated he is unlikely to follow through.

“It depends. I don’t think we’ll have to,” Trump told Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Supreme Court's unanimous decision on the Electoral College Juan Williams: Trump's base begins to crack Bolton denies saying he will back Biden over Trump in November MORE, his former press secretary, in an interview on Newsmax.