Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, confirmed that soldiers who were deployed to Washington to quell protests over the death of George Floyd received bayonets, Associated Press reported Thursday.
Members of the Fort Bragg North Carolina Army 82nd Airborne Division and the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment based outside of DC were mobilized to DC last month when protests about police treatment of American blacks they shook the city.
For deployment on June 2, these soldiers received bayonets but were ordered to keep them in their pods and not tied to their rifles, Milley confirmed in a letter to two US representatives that was obtained by the AP.
But members of the division and regiment were never dispatched to the protests to respond, and were told that they would not enter the city without orders or before discussing non-lethal response methods.
Milley described the issuance of the bayonets in a letter dated June 26 addressed to the Representative. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja Krishnamoorthi Democrats are seeking information about the Treasury administration of the ‘opportunity zone’ program. Biden’s campaign rips Trump’s ‘scandalous’ comments about coronavirus testing. (D-Ill.) And Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuTrump campaign touts 4 million online viewers for the Tulsa rally Trump mocked by low attendance at rally House panel previews police reform bill MORE (D-Calif.) After asked by congressmen about the use of weapons in a letter dated June 22.
Congressmen had expressed concern in the letter that the use of bayonets could escalate the violence, comparing the situation to the time when troops had the weapon in the Kent State shooting in 1970. Milley made no commitment to suspend the use of the Arma in his response saying that the situation would depend on individual circumstances.
An unclassified military document obtained by the AP also detailed that some of the soldiers were untrained to respond to the riots, and commanders planned to train them within 96 hours of their arrival in DC.
Some 700 members of the 82nd Airborne Division were activated at two military bases near DC and armed with bullets, bayonets, and riot gear. But they were never shipped off base and were returned two days after arrival.
Bloomberg News had reported on June 11, the 3rd Infantry Regiment, known as the “Old Guard,” also received bayonets.
The reported use of bayonets sparked a backlash online and prompted Krishnamoorthi and Lieu to write their letter to Milley.
“While we are grateful for General Milley’s responses to our questions about arming troops with bayonets for possible deployment against protesters, we were disappointed that he was unwilling to commit to banning the practice,” the representatives said in a statement obtained. by The Hill.
“We recognize the need for the Joint Force to maintain the flexibility to respond to various circumstances, but we find it difficult to imagine a circumstance that may require or justify the deployment of bayonets against US civilians,” the statement continued.
The protests rocked DC and other cities after Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody after a former officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The Hill has contacted the Department of Defense for comment.