DC Guard ready for election violence, but no specific training underway

U.S. Army leadership responsible for any National Guard deployment in the capital region denied any special preparations were underway ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election but asserted the Guard would be ready if needed.

“If we’re called upon, we will act in support of that, to protect federal property and support law enforcement,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said when asked about D.C. National Guard deployment if civil unrest occurs surrounding the Nov. 3 presidential election.

“We support law enforcement,” he added at a Pentagon briefing Tuesday. “We don’t police American streets.”

Army chief Gen. James McConville clarified that no specific direction has been made to prepare Army military police ahead of the November election.

“There’s been no planning guidance given out from the Department of the Army directing any military police units to begin training for any situation,” he said.

The D.C. National Guard was criticized after it was called to assist law enforcement clearing Lafayette Square of protesters near the White House prior to a curfew on June 1 so that President Trump could walk through the park for a photo opportunity.

Two National Guard helicopters also flew low over protesters during the incident in an effort to disperse them.

McCarthy said the Army completed its portion of an investigation of the incident and turned it over to the Pentagon’s Inspector General. The Army Secretary declined to predict if the report would be released before the election.

“It’s my understanding that it’s imminent, and it’ll be released when it’s completed,” he said.

McCarthy also defended the use of the National Guard during the civil unrest in Washington, D.C. following the death of George Floyd.

“I wouldn’t characterize us being dragged onto the scene,” he said. “The protests became very violent on Sunday evening, in particular, of that week, and it was necessary to bring in the support to help local law enforcement and federal law enforcement officials, due to the tremendous damage, police officers, and Guardsmen being injured.”

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