President Donald Trump has increasingly offered military support in response to violent protests following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in police custody on Monday.
According to an Associated Press report, citing unnamed military officials, Trump and the Pentagon have authorized the rare step of ordering several U.S. Army Military Police units to be on standby, ready to deploy on short notice. The move would reportedly place active-duty soldiers, not National Guard members, on notice to respond to protests that have grown into riots in cities around the country.
Soldiers from Fort Bragg, North Carolina and Fort Drum, New York were ordered to be ready within four hours, according to three military sources who spoke with the Associated Press. Those Fort Bragg and Fort Drum soldiers were reportedly place on a 30-minute recall notice, requiring them to be able to return to their duty stations within that time frame.
Soldiers stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, and Fort Riley, Kansas were also reportedly ordered to be ready to mobilize within a 24 hour period
Minnesota National Guard Adjutant Gen. Jon Jensen addressed reports of an active military mobilization, during a press conference with Gov. Tim Walz
“You may have seen or heard that this evening, the President directed the Pentagon to put units of United States Army on alert to possible operation in Minneapolis,” Jensen said. “While we were not consulted with as it relates to that, I do believe it’s a prudent move to provide other options available for the Governor, if the Governor elects to use those resources.”
On Saturday, Walz announced the full mobilization of the Minnesota National Guard.
During his conference, Walz responded to questions about calling in the military police units during his Saturday announcement, the Washington Post reported.
“They’re not talking about mobilizing the entire United States Army,” Walz said. “We’re probably talking about in the neighborhood of several hundred.”
Trump told also appeared to referenced the potential deployment of active military troops, during comments to reporters Saturday, NBC reported.
“We have our military ready, willing and able, if they ever want to call our military. We can have troops on the ground very quickly,” Trump told reporters Saturday. “They’re using their National Guard right now, as you know.”
The distinction between active military and National Guard troops could be important, as federal laws constrain the U.S. of military forces in law enforcement matters.
The Associated Press reported the military would use the Insurrection Act of 1807 to authorize the military deployment. Separate sources for the Washington Post said the Pentagon was considering ways to mobilize the military without invoking the Insurrection Act. That official told the Post those soldiers might be brought in for crowd control duty, but not to help make arrests.
“No one in the department is talking about invoking the Insurrection Act,” the official told the Post. That official added that the Defense Department is “going in support of the governor, and that’s our touchstone: What does the governor need to be successful.”
Walz said he had also discussed using military resources to gather intelligence on the growing protests, which he said are being radicalized by out-of-state individuals.
“They were also able to provide their intelligence support of what they’re seeing, what they’re signal intercepting,” Walz said.