Top Military Leader’s DC Stroll In Fatigues Sets Off Wave Of Criticism

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June 2, 2020 10:44 a.m.

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was seen walking the streets of Washington, D.C., in battle fatigues after curfew Monday night — a scene that sparked an intense wave of criticism. 

“We’ve got the D.C. National Guard out here, and I’m just checking there and seeing how they’re doing, that’s all,” Milley said as he strolled the nation’s capital on Tuesday, two hours after the city’s curfew which started at 7 p.m. ET

The presence of the military general followed a conference call on Monday in which the president resorted to name-calling, suggesting many of the nation’s governors were “weak” in their ability to restrain racial turmoil. On that same call, Defense Secretary Mark Esper employed the military strategy term “battlespace” to the streets that have become the stomping grounds for nationwide demonstrations against police brutality. Esper said the streets need to be dominated in his view to return to the “right normal.” 

The response to Milley’s presence on Twitter was swift, with some questioning why he appeared in military fatigues, which signaled a readiness “for war.”

David Frum, a writer for The Atlantic and a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, suggested that Milley should consider resignation. 

Others reacted with dismay over the visual:

The president laid the groundwork for a ramped up military presence in the nation’s capital when he deployed 1,200 troops from the D.C. National Guard onto the city’s streets to contain racial unrest in D.C. on Monday.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also announced the president’s plans to set up a “central command center” that would include Milley, Esper, and Attorney General William Barr, among state and local officials.

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