Guardsmen attack peaceful protesters to clear path for Trump, Milley, Esper; ‘Dominate the battlespace’; Top USAF enlisted: ‘I am George Floyd’; Another warship has COVID; And a bit more.
National Guard and police attacked peaceful protesters Monday to clear a path so the president could pose for a campaign ad of himself holding a Bible in front of a church near the White House. Guardsmen and police officers shot tear gas and rubber bullets early Monday evening into a crowd of nonviolent demonstrators protesting systemic racism in America following last week’s death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man murdered by police eight days ago in Minnesota. The Washington Post has more from that scene, here.
Ahead of his short walk, President Donald Trump said in a brief Rose Garden speech that he had ordered “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers” to quell civil unrest in Washington, D.C., and threatened to deploy troops in states that “refuse” to do so in their own cities. Defense One’s Katie Bo Williams has more from that, here.
Trump’s entourage featured Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, both of whom followed closely as POTUS walked between tight cordons of riot-clad police to the St. John’s Episcopal Church for the photo op, which you can see via the Associated Press, here. (The church’s bishop was “outraged” over the visit.)
Related: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is “demand[ing] an investigation into the assault of an Australian journalist and cameraman at the hands of U.S. Police, that was broadcast live on one of the country’s biggest morning shows,” Australia’s Channel 7 News reports today.
- See for yourself. America’s former ISIS war envoy Brett McGurk shared the footage on Twitter, which he said “rendered [him] speechless,” here. There’s plenty more footage just like that from D.C. on Monday.
Who’s in charge? Gen. Mark Milley, according to President Trump’s remarks Monday. The same Gen. Milley whose Joint Chiefs job makes him the president’s senior advisor in wars against foreign adversaries. He’s now “in charge” of the federal response to protests nationwide — leading a “central command center” that also includes Esper and Attorney General William Barr.
Said POTUS of Milley’s new gig: “General Milley is here, who’s head of Joint Chiefs of Staff, a fighter, a warrior, and a lot of victories and no losses. And he hates to see the way it’s being handled in the various states. And I’ve just put him in charge,” Trump said in a phone call with governors on Monday (more on that in a moment).
Trump’s Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany added a very small bit in later remarks to reporters Monday, saying, “There will be a central command center in conjunction with the state and local governments, that will include Milley, Esper and Barr, to deal with violence and looting.”
Worth noting: Nobody yet knows what Trump or McEnany mean — from the jurisdiction of the “command center” to the troops involved.
Also on Monday, SecDef Esper advised governors to “dominate the battlespace” of U.S. cities and streets experiencing unrest over the death of Floyd George. Defense Secretary Mark Esper made the remarks in a White House call with governors on Monday, the audio of which was immediately leaked to multiple news outlets — including the New York Times, the Washington Post and The Daily Beast.
“I think the sooner that you mass and dominate the battlespace, the quicker this dissipates and we can get back to the right normal,” said Esper in the phone call.
That remark was met with immediate criticism from multiple military observers, including:
- former SOCOM commander Gen. Tony Thomas;
- former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey;
- Former Army Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling;
- AEI’s Kori Schake; Nick Krisof; former CIA-er and current Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin from Michigan; and many others.
Said Rep. Adam Smith, House Armed Services Committee Chairman and Democrat from Washington, on Twitter: “It is un-American to use our service members to ‘dominate’ civilians, as both the President and Secretary of Defense have suggested. We live in a democracy, not a dictatorship. I urge President Trump to reverse course and calm tensions across the country, not escalate them.”
Trump’s message to governors: "If you don't dominate, you're wasting your time. They're going to run all over you, you'll look like a bunch of jerks." CNN has a full transcript from that phone call, here.
GOP pushback? Crickets. Unless you count Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who told reporters, “I do think some of [President Trump’s] tweets have not been helpful, and it would be helpful if he would change the tone of his message,” ABC News reports.
Not to be overlooked: something called the “boogaloo,” which Politico reports off a recent FBI notice is “a term used by some violent extremists to refer to the start of a second Civil War.” And the FBI is warning white supremacist groups are trying to trigger that “second civil war” by shooting into crowds of peaceful protesters across the U.S. More on that FBI memo and its implications, here.
BTW: Two such “Boogaloo Bois” were arrested in Denver on Friday. And the weapons they travelled with were — in a word — excessive, appearing to have come from the 10th Special Forces Group just down I-25 at Fort Carson. The Colorado Times Recorder has more, here. Or read Colorado’s 9News, here.
Related: “White instigators to blame for mayhem in some protests, local officials say,” reads a headline from the Washington Post Monday evening regarding apparent antagonists in Pittsburgh; Austin, Texas; Fargo, N.D.; and more.
One more thing: “I am George Floyd,” tweeted Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright, announcing “an independent review of the service’s justice system after a series of scathing reports that showed it disproportionately punishes young black airmen,” Military Times reported. “Last week, the advocacy group Protect Our Defenders released a report — the third in the last few years — that found black airmen at the E-2 grade were twice as likely to be punished as their white counterparts, and that the disparities have persisted.”
Added Wright, just the second black man to serve as the Air Force’s top enlisted leader: “What happens all too often in this country to Black men who are subjected to police brutality that ends in death…could happen to me.” Read his thread, and what he plans to do about it, here.
From Defense One
Trump, GOP Allies Reach For Military Response To Domestic Protests // Katie Bo Williams: In startling language, Defense Secretary Mark Esper referred to American streets as “the battlespace.”
Trump Finally Gets the War He Wanted // Kevin Baron: Gen. Milley and Secretary Esper accompanied the president to a photo op — and right into his American war.
What the National Guard Is Doing During the Protests // Patrick Tucker: Guardsmen appear to have been involved in at least one fatal clash.
US Navy Prepares to Connect Newest Carrier to Other Warships // Marcus Weisgerber: The Gerald Ford is in the Atlantic with the Harry Truman.
Americans Should Fight Propaganda, Like We Used To // Tara Sonenshine: Do we care what the rest of the world believes about us? We should.
The Coronavirus Is Raising the Likelihood of Great-Power Conflict // Barry Pavel: U.S. efforts to increase deterrence must be carefully calibrated to avoid accidental escalation.
Estonia Already Lives Online. Why Can’t the United States? // Nina Jankowicz, The Atlantic: Using secure identification, people there can bank, apply for government assistance, file for sick leave, order prescriptions, and get medical care—all online.
Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. Send us tips from your community right here. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1919, anarchists bombed eight U.S. cities, but only managed to kill two men — a nightwatchman in New York City, and one of the anarchists emplacing a bomb. Nearly killed by a bomb in Washington, D.C.: Assistant Secretary of the Navy (at the time) Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor.
At-home coronavirus tests are rolling off the assembly lines, the Wall Street Journal reports today. And that could mean a quicker return to work for some of our readers. Two big problems: “experts worry about the accuracy of the results generated by the at-home tests,” and “insurers often don’t cover” the cost of at-home tests.
To the important question: cost. One test cost about $150 and it’s made by Rutgers University’s RUCDR Infinite Biologics lab. Another test from Everlywell Inc. costs $109 each, and another from PrivaPath Diagnostics Inc. costs $129. Still another from Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings comes in at $119 a piece.
Sales of these tests are expected to reach about $816 million in 2020. More here.
BTW: The coronavirus will cost the U.S. $8 trillion through 2030, the Congressional Budget Office announced Monday in a revision of its previous economic impact estimates. “In a letter to U.S. lawmakers, the CBO said the U.S. economy will grow by $7.9 trillion less from 2020 to 2030 than it had projected in January,” the Washington Post reports. “That amounts to a 3 percent decline in U.S. gross domestic product compared to its initial estimate.”
Worth noting: “The surveys indicate the worst might be over for manufacturers, and activity could start to increase in coming months,” the Wall Street Journal reports in its coverage of the CBO estimate Monday. “But the road back to the levels of output and employment seen at the end of last year is set to be long and bumpy.”
Q. Is the White House losing focus on COVID? Two relevant data points:
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert on the White House’s coronavirus task force, said Monday that he has not spoken to or met with Trump in two weeks, CNN reported.
- Adm. Brett Giroir, who supervises coronavirus testing at FEMA, said Monday that he will step down as the Trump administration’s testing czar. “An HHS spokesperson confirmed the plan for Giroir to step down and suggested that there are no plans to appoint a new “head of efforts” for coronavirus testing,” NPR reported.
Another U.S. warship has the coronavirus. Sailors aboard the dock landing ship Carter Hall “tested positive for COVID-19 last month, but Navy officials refused to say Monday how many shipmates were infected,” Navy Times reported Monday.
Back to campus: The service academies are planning to have cadets and midshipmen back for the fall term, Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck told the academy’s Board of Visitors during a Monday meeting. More from AP, here.
Finally today: Swedish telecom Ericsson seems best poised to benefit from the Trump administration’s attacks on Chinese 5G giant Huawei, the WSJ reports from the business side of America’s costly “Cold War” with China.
Why Ericsson? Apparently it's quite innovative at making cellular antennas, which use "a new technology, called massive multiple-input multiple-output, or massive MIMO, that sends wireless signals in strong jets to different devices. Typical cellular antennas, which sit on steel towers or rooftops, send wireless signals in a wide cone, similar to the way a garden hose sprays water." That innovation could help avoid, e.g., building new cellular towers.
Already, “Ericsson is testing equipment in several fields that 5G’s superfast wireless speeds promise to unlock, such as driverless cars and remote-control mining machinery…The question for Ericsson is figuring out which [of those] technologies of tomorrow to bet on.” More here.
ICYMI: The U.S. military added Nellis AFB to its list of places it will test 5G equipment in 2021, the Pentagon announced late last week. Defense One’s Patrick Tucker elaborated on that decision, here.