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3 Jun, 2020 21:24

'It's a dynamic situation': Esper does about-face on plan to return some 200 troops to home bases from DC after WH visit

'It's a dynamic situation': Esper does about-face on plan to return some 200 troops to home bases from DC after WH visit

No active-duty troops that were recently deployed to the DC area to manage heated protests will be leaving just yet, the Pentagon said – an apparent reversal of an earlier plan to send some 200 home.

US Secretary of Defense MarkEsper’s u-turn followed a White House meeting and “internal Pentagon discussions” on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported, citing Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, who said the decision is meant to ensure law enforcement in the capital have support in case of renewed unrest. It is not clear if the defense secretary spoke with US President Donald Trump.

It is our intent at this point not to bring in active forces, we don’t think we need them at this point. But it’s prudent to have the reserve capability in the queue, on a short string.

McCarthy added that around 200 soldiers with the 82nd Airborne would remain in the capital region for another 24 hours. 

It’s a dynamic situation… we’re trying to withdraw them and get them back home.

Also on rt.com ‘Prudent planning measure’: Pentagon flies 1,600 active-duty troops into DC area to be on standby as protests continue

Up to 1,600 active-duty troops were deployed to the capital region earlier this week and remain on standby after intense anti-police brutality demonstrations roiled DC, at times escalating to riots, looting and vandalism. Hundreds of National Guard soldiers were also used to patrol the city amid the unrest.

Earlier on Wednesday, Esper said the military should only be used to quell unrest at home as a “last resort,” explicitly opposing Trump's plan to invoke the Insurrection Act, which would expand presidential authorities to deploy soldiers to police American streets. The statement broke with the president’s more aggressive stance toward the rioters, though it is unclear if Trump had any role in Esper’s decision to leave active-duty troops near the DC region.

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