SecDef orders after-action review of National Guard's 'civil unrest' response

Elizabeth Howe
June 12, 2020 - 8:22 am
DC National Guard

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Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has ordered an After Action Review of the National Guard's response to "civil unrest" across the country in the past two weeks. 

The review, led by Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy is meant to "specifically evaluate the National Guard’s efforts working with local and federal law enforcement across the country" and will address issues including training, equipping, organizing, manning, deployment, and employment within the Guard, a Department of Defense statement read. 

“In recent weeks, the National Guard has performed professionally and capably in support of law enforcement in cities across the United States,” Esper said in the statement. “I have the greatest respect for, and am deeply proud of our Soldiers and Airmen who served during this period to ensure that peaceful protestors could execute their First Amendment rights, and that they and others would not suffer from violence against themselves and their property. I have full confidence in Secretary of the Army McCarthy to lead a robust review.”

More than 41,500 Guard troops were activated in 33 states in response to "civil unrest" to augment local law enforcement. In the roughly two weeks that troops were activated, a D.C. Guard helicopter rotor washed protestors, a Kentucky Guard troop killed a black man who fired on law enforcement, an Ohio Guard troop was removed from the D.C. mission due to white supremacist ties, Utah Guard troops were evicted from D.C. hotels, troops across the country were recorded and photographed participating in demonstrations, and some of them have now tested positive for COVID-19 after reportedly not wearing proper protective gear.

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Needless to say, the After Action Review will certainly need to be "robust."

Between the Guard troops activated in response to protests and those already activated in the fight against COVID-19, more than 84,000 troops were activated at one point in recent weeks. This far exceeds the previous period of highest activations -- in 2005, 50,000 Guard troops were activated in response to Hurricane Katrina. 

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Reach Elizabeth Howe on Twitter @ECBHowe.

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