Army Special Forces Now Guarding Trump From Protesters Near White House
ABC News reports that on Wednesday night, some United States Army special operations soldiers joined law enforcement at the perimeter surrounding the White House.
Utah National Guard troops with arrowhead patches of the Special Forces did not carry firearms but did wield batons. They accompanied local law enforcement at the security perimeter around the White House.
Retired Army Special Forces Col. Robert Wilson told ABC, “I'm kind of horrified by seeing the junta-looking Guard guys around D.C. I hate the optics of it.”
Wilson was a counterterrorism director in President Donald J. Trump’s National Security Council before retiring in 2017. The soldiers from Utah’s Nineteenth Special Forces Group (Airborne) guarded his former workplace on Wednesday.
President Trump’s administration ordered 3,300 National Guard troops to Washington D.C., drawing from reserves in multiple states. They are supporting 1,200 D.C. Guardsmen and police.
Trump has called the Guard in the midst of mass gatherings in D.C., including nonviolent demonstrations and violent rioting and property destruction.
Two former chairs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Wednesday and Trump's former Secretary of Defense James Mattis have publicly rebuked the use of Guardsmen to deal with nationwide protests.
ABC reports that “there was little violence reported Wednesday night in the city.”
A National Guard Spokesperson told ABC that “The reason” the Utah National Guard was deployed “is because they were already prepared for deployment” for a different mission. “They were chosen for expedience, not their skillset.”
Lieutenant Colonel James Gavrilis, another retired Green Beret, said that while he thought deploying troops from a commando unit was not well-conceived, he was skeptical it was intended to be nefarious.
Gavrilis said, “I'd be last person to say Special Forces guys should be out there. But those guys on the line aren't trying to instigate the protesters.”
Mick Mulroy is a former Marine and CIA officer who now contributes to ABC News. He criticized the administration’s use of terms such as “battlespace” to describe the civil unrest. He said, “Cities of the United States are not a battlefield. When you use terms like 'dominate the battlespace,' this is the image they may conjure up.”
Trump also referred to rioting as “domestic terror” and has announced on Twitter that he will designate Antifa, a leftwing movement he has implicated as the source of some violent elements of the unrest, as a terrorist organization.
Wilson agreed with Mulroy’s criticism.
The public can't differentiate between units and patches, but there were comments last night on social media about spec ops coming in, and so from that aspect… You can see paranoia about that spreading.