A U.S. Army unit stationed near Washington, D.C. was issued bayonets and live ammunition as a precaution amid widespread protesting and riots in recent weeks in the nation’s capital.
“At no point were any weapons loaded or made ready, but in preparation for potential operations in an increased readiness posture, the Old Guard Commander directed the issue of bayonets in scabbards and limited amounts of ammunition to be maintained in pouches,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a June 10 letter obtained by Bloomberg News.
The Old Guard, officially known as the 3rd Infantry Unit, is a largely ceremonial unit responsible for escorting the president and responding to “national emergency or civil disturbance,” according to the unit’s website. As many as 800 troops in the unit were standing by during the protests last week, Bloomberg reported.
The heightened alert from the Old Guard came amid protests, which sometimes turned to riots in Washington, D.C. and beyond, following the death of George Floyd, who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes, viral video shows.
Milley apologized Thursday for appearing in photographs June 1 with President Donald Trump as he made his way to St. John’s church, which had been vandalized by demonstrators, The Guardian reported. (RELATED: Defense Secretary Says Trump Is Wrong — ‘I Do Not Support’ Mobilizing Military To Police Floyd Protests, Riots)
“I should not have been there,” Milley said in a pre-recorded video address, the Guardian reported. “My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics,” he said.
Gen. Mark Milley on Lafayette Square: “I should not have been there… It is a mistake that I learned from.” pic.twitter.com/rZTvGsbith
— The Hill (@thehill) June 12, 2020
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