The Secretary of Defense has publicly disagreed with the President about deploying troops to quell nationwide protests. Mark Esper said on Wednesday he doesn’t want to see the Insurrection Act invoked.
Esper addressed the issue during a briefing at the Pentagon.
“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,” he said.
“The National Guard is best suited to lend support to…local law enforcement. The option to use active duty military should only be as a last resort. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act” – Def. Sec Esper.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) June 3, 2020
“We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”
The Defense Secretary also discussed his recent use of the phrase “battlespace” with regard to the protests.
“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,” Esper explained.
“In retrospect I would have used different wording.”
Esper went further than the President when discussing the death of George Floyd. He expressed his condolences for Floyd’s death and called for accountability.
“Racism is real in America, and we must all do our very best to recognize it, to confront it, and to eradicate it.”
Darragh Roche is a journalist covering U.S. politics and media