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1,600 active duty troops are now on ‘high alert’ in Washington, DC area deployment

Demonstrators protest against the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
June 03, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense has moved U.S. Army military police units from Fort Bragg, N.C. and Fort Drum, N.Y. to the National Capitol Region around Washington D.C. in the last day, placing them on standby as civil unrest continues in the capital and around the country.

In an emailed statement, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman confirmed that approximately 1,600 active-duty troops deployed to the region and now remain on standby. The 16th Military Police Brigade from Fort Bragg and the 91st Military Police Battalion from Fort Drum are now within the National Capit0l Region.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper also authorized the movement of an infantry battalion, designated Task Force 504, assigned to the Army’s Immediate Response Force from Fort Bragg.

“Active duty elements are postured on military bases in the National Capitol Region but are not in Washington, D.C.,” Hoffman said in the statement. “They are on heightened alert status but remain under Title X authority and are not participating in defense support to civil authority operations.”

Reports circulated over the weekend that active military troops pulled from military police units might be brought in to respond to civil law enforcement matters. Title X laws, as mentioned in the Pentagon statement, limit active federal troops from being used in most domestic law enforcement scenarios, though the Insurrection Act of 1807 has been reported as one potential exemption that could apply. Military officials who spoke with Military.com said there is a significant interest in avoiding using Title X troops and to instead rely on states to deploy their National Guard units where appropriate.

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The announcement of 1,600 active troops on standby comes as more than 17,000 National Guard troops from 23 states have already reportedly been activated to undertake domestic civil unrest missions amid mass protests and riots following the death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, while in police custody last week.

On Monday, President Donald Trump called on governors across the country to deploy their National Guard units to stop rioting in their states.

“Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled,” Trump said. “If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United State military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

Over the weekend, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced the full activation of the state’s National Guard units. In their announcement, Walz and Minnesota National Guard adjutant Gen. Jon Jensen responded to a proposed offer to use military police if their own National Guard forces could not stop the rioting.

“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,” Jensen said of the reported offers to use military police units.