Washington — The Pentagon said Saturday it was ready to provide military help to authorities scrambling to contain unrest in Minneapolis, where George Floyd’s death has sparked widespread protests, but Gov. Tim Walz has not requested federal troops.
Jonathan Rath Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said several military units have been placed on higher alert “as a prudent planning measure” in case Walz asks for help. The Associated Press first reported on the potential deployments and, citing sources with direct knowledge of the orders, named four locations from which soldiers would be drawn.
Hoffman did not identify the units, but other officials said they are mainly military police. Hoffman said these are units normally on 48-hour recall to support state authorities in the event of crises like natural disasters. They are now on four-hour alert, Hoffman said.
Defense officials said there was no intent by the Pentagon to deploy any federal forces to Minnesota unless Walz asked for help. If he did make such a request, federal units such as military police could provide logistical and other kinds of support to the Minnesota National Guard or state law enforcement, but would not get directly involved in law enforcement under current plans, the officials said. They were not authorized to discuss the planning publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Alyssa Farah, the White House director of strategic communications said the deployment of active-duty military police is untrue. In an email to the AP, she referred to Title 10, the U.S. law that governs the armed forces and would authorize active duty military to operate within the country.
“False: off the record – title 10 not under discussion,” said Farah. No off-record agreement was negotiated with the AP.
President Donald Trump urged Walz and other authorities in Minnesota to “be tough” in Minneapolis.
“We have our military ready, willing and able if they ever want to call our military, and we can have troops on the ground every quickly,” Trump said.
Soldiers from Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Drum in New York have been ordered to be ready to deploy within four hours if called, according to three people with direct knowledge of the orders. Soldiers in Fort Carson, in Colorado, and Fort Riley in Kansas have been told to be ready within 24 hours. The people were not were not authorized to discuss the preparations publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The get-ready orders were sent verbally on Friday, after Trump asked Esper for military options to help quell the unrest in Minneapolis after protests descended into looting and arson in some parts of the city.