In an address to the nation from the Rose Garden of the White House, President Donald Trump warned that he will deploy federal troops across the country if the ongoing civil unrest continues.
Trump’s warning to deploy federal troops comes after protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis turned violent and spread throughout the country. Although National Guard troops have been activated in more than 24 states, instead of waning, civil unrest has been intensifying.
“These are not acts of peaceful protests. These are acts of domestic terror. The destruction of innocent life, and the spilling of innocent blood, is an offense to humanity and a crime against God,” said Trump in the address. “Our country always wins. That is why I am taking immediate presidential action to stop the violence.”
In case federal troops are indeed deployed, they will most likely complement the efforts of the law enforcement departments and the National Guard in riot control and policing of the affected areas. Aside from additional bodies, the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities of the active-duty units will help local and state officials to better understand the situation in their respective areas of operations and take the necessary action.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Defence Mark Esper was caught making an unfortunate remark during a call with state governors. In an audio file leaked by the New York Times, Secretary Esper can be heard referring to America as “the battlespace.”
Former Army General Tony Thomas, a former Delta Force officer who commanded both the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), responded to Secretary Esper by tweeting, “The ‘battle space’ of America??? Not what America needs to hear…ever, unless we are invaded by an adversary or experience a constitutional failure…ie [sic] a Civil War…”
Suffice to say that Secretary Esper’s remarks missed the mark. But to focus on an unfortunate choice of words and ignore the big picture is equally distractive. The message that comes from that leaked call is that the Department of Defense (DoD) is certainly entertaining the idea of deploying Active Duty troops as a follow-on measure in the event that the local law enforcement agencies and National Guard units cannot stop the violence across the country. And despite the common misconception that this is illegal — because of the Posse Comitatus Act — the Secretary of Defence can indeed order federal troops across America in the orders of the president.
The Insurrection Act of 1807, which was amended by Congress in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2006, enables the President of the United States to deploy the active-duty military within the country “to suppress, in any State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy,” in addition to natural disasters, epidemics, or other serious public health emergencies, terrorist attacks or incidents.
In his address, Trump also questioned the reaction time of governors in calling up the National Guard. “I don’t know what it is politically where you don’t want to call out people,” he added. “They’re ready, willing and able [the National Guard units]. They want to fight for the country. I don’t know what it is. Someday you’ll have to explain it to me. But it takes so long to call them up.”
On Monday, National Guard troops in Minnesota fired at a vehicle that had ignored their verbal and non-verbal warnings to stop. The action was within the rules of engagement, according to Major General Jon Jensen, the commander of the Minnesota National Guard. This is the second instance of National Guard troops firing their weapons during the civil unrest. The first time was again on Monday in Kentucky when an individual appears to have opened fire at National Guardsmen and law enforcement officers in Louisville. In the exchange of fire that followed, one person from the crowd was killed but it is still unclear if that was the perpetrator.
Meanwhile, the FBI is looking for assistance in identifying the instigators and perpetrators behind the civil unrest.
“The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights,” said a statement. “Our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution is dual and simultaneous, not contradictory. . .We are committed to apprehending and charging violent instigators who are exploiting legitimate, peaceful protests and engaging in violations of federal law.”
More specifically, the Bureau is looking for tips, supported by digital evidence, such as photos, videos, or even audio files, that will lead to the identification of those responsible for the riots. You can submit any evidence here.