Defense chief breaks with Trump on military action against protests

Defense chief breaks with Trump on response to protests
Mark Espar said he does not support using active duty troops to quell the large-scale protests across the United States. Source: CNN
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Daily US Times: US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said he does not support using military action to quell the large-scale protests across the United States triggered by the death of George Floyd.

He said on Wednesday that those forces should only be used in a law enforcement role as a last resort.

Mr Esper’s comment came after President Donald Trump recently threatened to enable military action to enforce order.

The President said: “I am mobilizing all federal and local resources, civilian and military, to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans.”

“Today I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets. Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming presence until the violence is quelled,” Trump said during a hastily arranged address at the White House.

During a briefing at the Pentagon, he said: “The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

He also attempted to explain his use of the word “battlespace” when discussing quelling violence on the streets amid civil unrest.

“It’s something we use day in and day out … it’s part of our military lexicon that I grew up with…it’s not a phrase focused on people. In retrospect I would have used different wording,” he said.

Esper called the killing of Floyd as a “horrible crime” and acknowledged racism in the country, saying “racism is real in America, and we must all do our very best to recognize it, to confront it, and to eradicate it.”

He said the officers on the scene of the incident should be held accountable for Floyd’s murder and happening these kinds of situation too many times is a tragedy.

With great sympathy, I want to extend the deepest of condolences to the family and friends of George Floyd from me and the Department. Racism is real in America, and we must all do our very best to recognize it, to confront it, and to eradicate it,” he said.

This week, several defense officials told that there was deep and growing discomfort among some in the Pentagon even before Trump announced that he is ready to deploy the military to enforce order inside the US. Mr On Monday, Trump threatened to deploy military to control the protests.