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12 Jun, 2020 03:37

Pentagon orders ‘after action review’ of National Guard’s response to protests & rioting

Pentagon orders ‘after action review’ of National Guard’s response to protests & rioting

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has ordered a post-mortem review of the National Guard’s performance after thousands of troops were summoned to American streets to manage mass protests and civil unrest over police brutality.

A Pentagon release on Thursday night said an “after action review” had been ordered to address a number of issues, including the “training, equipping, organizing, manning, deployment and employment” of Guard forces amid the demonstrations, with a focus on cooperation with law enforcement.

“In recent weeks, the National Guard has performed professionally and capably in support of law enforcement in cities across the United States” Esper said in a statement, commending the Guard for ensuring that “peaceful protesters could execute their First Amendment rights.”

At least 17,000 Guardsmen were activated across 23 US states and Washington, DC after intense protests erupted in hundreds of cities, sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed in the custody of the Minneapolis police in late May.

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While major clashes between the Guard and protesters were largely avoided during the weeks of unrest, the military is giving greater scrutiny to several incidents in the nation’s capital, in which Guardsmen are said to have employed more aggressive tactics, including the use of a low-flying military helicopter to disperse demonstrators.

The Donald Trump administration has been heavily criticized for the response to the DC protests, in which a number of active-duty soldiers were also placed on standby in the event the Guard needed reinforcements. In particular, Trump came under fire after staging a photo-op at the St. John’s Church during the unrest, accused of ordering protesters forcefully removed from an area near the White House to clear a path to the church. Though a number of eyewitness accounts and footage of the incident suggest otherwise, Trump has denied tear gas was used on the demonstrators, also insisting he did not personally give the order to have them removed.

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