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17,000 National Guard troops are deployed for riots in reportedly 23 states

U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers with the South Carolina National Guard prepare to travel to the District of Columbia from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, June 2, 2020, to respond to a request for support for the District of Columbia National Guard conducting civil disturbance missions in the nation’s capital. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brian Calhoun, South Carolina National Guard)
June 02, 2020

On Monday, President Donald Trump urged state governors to activate their state’s National Guard units in response to ongoing rioting and civil unrest, or else he would call on active-duty military to respond to the unrest state and local leaders failed to stop. Now 17,000 Guardsmen have been deployed in response to the riots alone.

On Monday Gen. Joseph Lengyel, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, indicated that out of some 66,000 National Guard members activated across the country, more than 17,000 are now assisting state and local agencies handling civil unrest. “Today, 17,015 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are assisting local and state civilian agencies responding to civil unrest,” Lengyel tweeted. “A record 66,722 Guard troops are engaged in domestic operations at the direction of the governors today. This includes 45,000 responding to COVID-19. An additional 28,000 are deployed worldwide.”

Following Trump’s Monday White House address calling for military responses to rioting, Lengyel told reporters during a press teleconference that the number of National Guard forces active for domestic operations across the country is now at more than 100,000, Military.com reported.

The number of National Guard members active in Washington D.C. alone will reach almost 3,000 on Tuesday. Around 1,500 Guard troops from Indiana, South Carolina, and Tennessee are joining the forces from D.C., which have already been augmented with Guard troops from New Jersey and Utah.

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“Obviously, this is a very historic response from the National Guard,” Lengyel said.

CNN reported Monday night that 23 states have active National Guard units beyond the District of Columbia: Arizona, Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

“Georgia Army National Guardsmen receive a riot control training course on May 31, 2020 in Atlanta Ga,” the Georgia National Guard tweeted. “Georgia @GovKemp has authorized the activation of up to 3,000 Georgia Guardsmen to augment local civil authorities in the wake of civil unrest.”

“Nearly 200 UTNG service members have been activated by order of Utah Governor Gary Herbert to assist local law enforcement agencies in response to violence and looting in downtown Salt Lake City to preserve life and protect property,” the Utah National Guard tweeted Saturday.

A Pentagon official also told Military.com that active-duty military was also gathered near the nation’s capital but that they have not been ordered to come into the city and support law enforcement efforts.

“There are active-duty forces in the area, placed on a short alert status,” the official said.

Between 200 and 250 military police members of the XVIII Airborne Corps from Fort Bragg, North Carolina were reportedly sent to bases inside the National Capital Region, but outside D.C. itself.

Another military official who spoke to Military.com said there is a significant interest in limiting military responses to National Guard units given the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits federal troops from being used for domestic law enforcement purposes in most cases.

“There were 1,200 national Guard forces deployed throughout the district last evening, but there were far more law enforcement,” another military official told Military.com. “We were in support . . . co-located with law enforcement generally in equal numbers.”

“More than 400 Ky. Guardsmen on day 2 of duty with @LMPD for Louisville protests,” the Kentucky National Guard tweeted Sunday.

On Monday, Tennessee National Guard troops deployed in the state lowered their riot shields at a peaceful protest.

“TRADOC salutes the Tennessee National Guard for their selfless service to the nation, and to the people of the State of Tennessee,” Lt. Gen. Ted Martin, the Deputy Commanding General United States Army Training and Doctrine Command tweeted Tuesday.

On Saturday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced he was fully mobilizing his state’s National Guard units to respond to rioting. The full force of the state’s Guard could be as large as 13,000 members, according to a 2019 annual report. Minnesota National Guard adjutant Gen. Jon Jensen also indicated he had heard offers from the Trump administration to deploy active military in the state’s response to 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.

“It was a quiet night for our service members. Thank you to everyone who peacefully protested and stayed safe at home. Our Airmen and Soldiers ran nearly two dozen missions across the Twin Cities last night,” the Minnesota National Guard tweeted Tuesday morning.