Esper orders all active-duty troops outside DC home

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday ordered the remaining active-duty soldiers who had been on standby in the Washington, D.C., area back to their home bases after several days of peaceful protests in the nation’s capital.

The troops from the 91st Military Police Battalion based in Fort Drum, N.Y., will return to their state, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters at the Pentagon, as reported by multiple outlets.

A small active-duty contingent of the Arlington, Va.-based “Old Guard” — the Army’s official ceremonial unit and escort to the U.S. president — will remain on standby if D.C. law enforcement needs help, he noted.

Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell confirmed McCarthy’s comments to The Hill.

The order for the troops to depart came as D.C. had peaceful protests on several consecutive days, with the Metropolitan Police Department making no arrests related to the protests on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

The active-duty forces have been in the capital region since Monday, part of a total 1,600 troops at the ready outside the city if needed after protests swept the country over the death of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who died after during an arrest by the Minneapolis police.

The active-duty troops were never used to respond to unrest.

About 700 troops from the group, units from the 82nd Airborne Division based in Fort Bragg, N.C., were directed home on Thursday.

To further quash the protests, President Trump earlier this week had also mobilized National Guard troops — which still remain in the District — though D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) on Friday requested that the president “withdraw all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence” from the nation’s capital.

The District has a National Guard, but since it isn’t a state, the force is federally controlled. Trump — who has received a growing amount of pushback for his response to the nationwide protests — also encouraged governors to mobilize their National Guard forces as well, telling them that they need to “dominate” protesters.

But in a letter to Trump on Friday morning, Bowser announced that she had “ended the state of emergency in the District of Columbia related to demonstrations.”

“The deployment of federal law enforcement personnel and equipment are inflaming demonstrators and adding to the grievances of those who, by and large, are peacefully protesting for change and reforms to the racist and broken systems that are killing Black Americans,” Bowser said.

Tags 82nd Airborne Division Donald Trump Mark Esper military troops Muriel Bowser National Guard Old Guard Ryan McCarthy State of emergency

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