Transcript

Department of Defense Officials Brief Reporters on the Department's Response to Civil Unrest

June 2, 2020
Two Senior Defense Officials

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: All right, guys. So just to -- we'll take a pause here for about 10 -- about five seconds. Everybody just take a second, look down at your phone and make sure you are on mute. If -- if you have any doubt, you're probably not.

So we'll -- we'll – Then, we'll go from there, start -- open it up for questions, questions that will be answered on background.

(CROSSTALK)

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: Lita, AP?

Q: Hi, thank you. [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1], for you, can you -- I'm -- both -- both Secretary Esper and General Milley were down in the park yesterday where the protestors were being moved out rather abruptly. Can you talk about what were their roles there and why were they there?

And for [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2] or [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1], whoever, can you talk a bit more about the status of the active duty forces that are in the region -- but -- as you said -- you had said last night they are not yet deployed into the city, can you give us a bit more detail on them and can you say whether you're having trouble getting National Guard troops because of the stresses on the Guard in a -- a number of cities, or are states turning down the DC request in -- in order -- well, for whatever reason? Thank you.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: All right. So I'll start -- the first one -- the -- the event over at the White House yesterday evening, the -- the Secretary and the Chairman were -- were both actually heading to the Washington field office of the FBI to be co-located with the Director of the FBI and the Attorney General to observe and -- and provide leadership for response efforts last evening.

On -- after they left the Pentagon, they were asked to head to the White House to provide an update to the President; and so they headed to the White House to provide that update to the President and while they were there, as that meeting concluded, the -- the -- the President indicated an interest in viewing the -- the troops that were outside and the Secretary and the Chairman went with him to do so.

That's the extent of -- of what was taking place and -- and at that point they were part of the group that was with the President. He continued through Lafayette Park.

I think the second question you had was an update on the national -- on the active duty forces? No specific update on -- on anything new. There are active duty forces that I -- I believe -- as everyone is aware, that arrived in the area yesterday, placed on a short alert status as we talked about. They are located at bases in the NCR but outside of the district. They are on a -- on an alert status, if requested and -- and needed, but there's been no change. No active duty forces have been deployed into the district, no active duty forces have been engaged in any law enforcement efforts; they are simply on a shortened alert status at this point.

And then the last question, I believe, was for an update on conversations with -- or requests from other governors for support so I will -- I will turn that over to [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2].

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2: So obviously there's several states that I already talked to you about that are contributing forces to support the DC National Guard. I think I mentioned that last night, we had New Jersey and Utah -- were contributing forces. Today, South Carolina, Indiana, Mississippi and now Tennessee are also supplying some additional capacity to the D.C. National Guard.

So, you know, I -- I think that -- so as I've said before in some of my previous engagements, what's unique about this, the particular environment, if you take COVID, which is going on in every single state and you take the potential need – I think – in many states to deal with the civil unrest issue, I think states are carefully watching to make sure that they don't give away something that they might need to -- to handle a situation or a problem that's going on in their own state.

So I wouldn't say we're having problems, I would say that people are looking carefully and we are finding states willing to contribute and I expect that will happen over time and we'll get as many folks as -- as we need. You know, one of the issues with respect to the Guard again is, keep in mind, the -- the members of the National Guard are not sitting in garrison on their bases like many active duty forces are, they're working in their civilian jobs and -- and in their civilian lives.

Some of them are police officers and first responders and doing all kinds of things. So for them to be called to duty and go to another state, you know, it takes a couple days. You can't -- you can't just say “get in here and go, we're going this afternoon." That's not how we are built in the National Guard.

Frequently, we can do something at home in our own cities in a matter of hours, we can respond quickly to that, but to get all of your equipment and your gear and all of your things to get together and go. So as I said, we have another 1,500 or so coming in today and some more coming in even tomorrow. So you know, we're dealing with that as the situation allows us in each individual state. Thanks.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: All right, we'll go with the next question – Helene Cooper, New York Times. 

Q: Hey, thanks, [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1]. Does Secretary Esper have some words for the governors?

(UNKNOWN): No. 

(CROSSTALK)

Q: Yesterday, on a phone call he referred to America as a battlespace. Does he actually view America as a battlespace and American protestors as -- as enemies? What did he mean by that?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: So I think all of you are very well aware that the Department of Defense often communicates in a parlance unique to the profession of arms and the military profession. 

You'd have a secretary of defense who is in uniform for more than 20 years. And what he was describing, was an activity – that as [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2] mentioned – is a relatively unusual activity for us. And so he was using the terms that we have. 

The use of the term "battlespace" is something that we use to discuss -- generally, it's a common term for the area in which we are operating, whether that's in air, whether it's space, whether it's sea, that's how we describe the area we're operating. There was -- there was no -- nothing should be read into the use of that term to denote anything other than it's the common term we use for -- for the area we are operating in. So I'll leave it at that. 

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: OK. Next one, we'll go to David Martin, CBS.

Q: [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1], I want to go back over that explanation you gave for why Esper and Milley were out in the park yesterday. Because you made it sound almost like a bait-and-switch by the president. They -- they were on their way to FBI headquarters at the Washington field office, get called to the White House for an update. 

While they are at the White House for an update, they -- they are told that the president wants to go see the troops. They walk out allegedly to see the troops, and they end up in this monster photo op for which the entire square has been cleared, and they didn't -- they didn't know that that square was being cleared so that they could walk over to St. John's? 

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: So first off, I'd just say I don't want to – I would not characterize it the way you started with the characterization there. They did go to the White House to provide an update to the president, they did provide that update to the president. And in that meeting, and then they were there while the president gave remarks. And then at the conclusion of that, the president indicated a desire to -- to head out and see the troops. 

They were not aware that the -- the park police and law enforcement had made a decision to -- to clear the square. And once they -- they began that walk off of the White House grounds with the president, they continued with them. So don't have any more insight into it, but I don't believe that they're -- I would characterize it the way you did, there at the top. 

OK? We're going to keep going. We'll go to -- to Ryan Browne, CNN. 

(CROSSTALK)

Q: Thank you, sir. I just wanted to touch base. Can you confirm whether or not states -- I know New York has said that they denied a request for additional National Guard, but have other states refused a request for additional National Guard to come Washington? Thank you. 

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: I'll -- first off, they -- David, I think your microphone might be open there as well. 

But I'll refer -- [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2], do you want to take that one?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2: Yes, it's true. Some states weren't able to provide any additional support to D.C. And off the top of my head, you know, I think New York was one, Delaware was going to provide some support but diverted it to an event in Wilmington. I think Pennsylvania's considering, they haven't answered us yet. Some other states have looked.

Look, so some states we've asked have certainly said we -- either we can't do it, or we will let you know at a later date. Other states have -- that I mentioned earlier have offered up and are sending additional troops to D.C.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: And this isn't a unique situation, for governors to make these calls on -- on disasters. That's why there's the emergency, the EMAC [Emergency Management Assistance Compact] agreement, and that will often happen. So, every state is dealing with a different set of circumstances. And some were able to, some were unable to and as [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2] laid out, we're seeing additional states step up today to provide further forces.

All right, we'll keep going. Nancy Youssef, Wall Street Journal?

All right. Cami McCormick, CBS? Sorry -- sorry, Cami, I already did David. 

So I'm going to keep going to Sylvie, AFP?

Q: Hello, hello, thank you. I have a question about to -- a question for -- for [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1], I would like to go back to this “battlespace”. Do -- do you think that -- speaking about battlespace and speaking about using active duty military against American citizens, isn't there a risk it will affect the legitimacy of the military in the U.S.?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: So I think I've already addressed the -- the comment with regard to the battlespace. And that's just the -- the common term and phrase. I think another example would be, you know, we don't -- we wouldn't say "streets," we might say "terrain" or -- or something like that. It’s just a general, you know, non-pejorative word in the military parlance. 

So I think a lot's been read into that that is unnecessary and not tethered in the reality of how it was intended to be used, and how it is often used within the building, as many of you are well aware. 

With regard to the use of active duty forces, I think the department has been working very aggressively with state and local law enforcement to provide support for them. We've been working very aggressively to provide support to the National Guard Bureau and offering up assistance in getting additional National Guard forces moved to locations where they need to be. 

The secretary took time yesterday to call governors from surrounding states and request additional National Guard forces. So, I think the department and the secretary are very well aware of the -- the need to -- to address these riots and protests in a peaceful manner, and we are attempting to -- to help support governors and mayors when requested to do so. 

So I don't think that that -- that's anything that is unusual for the department. It's a role that we take seriously, we're very well aware of the implications and we're trying to -- to do that in a deliberate and a -- a conscientious manner and hopefully end up in a position where Minnesota was the other night because of additional National Guard forces on the ground, the level of (inaudible) was (inaudible). And additionally...

Q: Oh my God. 

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: ... like last evening, where we saw that take place in D.C., where the level of violence was reduced, given the increased National Guard presence. 

(CROSSTALK)

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: ... is on mute, is off of mute. So we will do another five-second pause for everybody to double-check your phones and make sure they're on mute. Somebody who's moving plates around with children in the room. If this describes you, you might be on -- not on mute. 

(CROSSTALK)

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: All right, we're going to keep going. So we'll go to NBC – Courtney? 

Q: Hi, thanks. And I know everyone was thinking that was my kids in the background, but it wasn't. The -- I want to follow up on a couple of things, [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1], . Can...

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: ... There wasn’t nearly enough screaming for those to be your children.

Q: Yeah, I know, they're actually playing with Nerf guns, so it would be very distinct right now. 

If -- I don't understand exactly the process for D.C. National Guard. Is it common for Secretary Esper, the secretary of defense, to be the one to ask neighboring states to come to -- to send troops into D.C.? Is it just that it's different because it's D.C. versus a state? And I don't know if that's a better question for you or [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2].

I also want to be sure. So everything right now is on background, your opening statements were on the record. Is that correct? I just want to implore you, since we're -- we're not talking about sensitive movements here, to have a call on the record. 

And then, [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1], for you, one more question back to David’s on this -- the movement from the White House yesterday. I just want to be clear that I understand that you're saying that when General Milley and Secretary Esper walked out of the White House with President Trump, with him carrying a Bible, their understanding is they were going to review troops and that it was -- and that they had no indication that they were going over to St. John's? Thanks.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: I'll take the last one first. Courtney, I'm not -- I was not aware -- I would have to see -- I don't know the President was carrying a Bible the entire way across, like, I don't -- I don't know if that is exactly what happened. But from my conversations that the -- that there was -- their understanding was that they were going out of the White House to go into Lafayette Park to review the efforts to -- to address the protests. 

So on the first one, the question about the process with the National Guard and requesting assistance, I'll defer to [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2], on that but obviously, the -- the National Guard in D.C. is a little bit different. 

So, [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2]?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2: Sure, thanks. And it's a great question. I saw your piece last night, Courtney, as you talked about all this in D.C. and -- and great understanding and great explanation, really, of D.C. and how it works. 

So, you know, try to keep all this in the context of what we've been doing for the Department of Defense, the National Guard, everybody in the context of the last couple months. I mean, there has been a huge interaction between the Department of Defense, Secretary Esper, the governors on a whole number of issues – issues from how do we assist you, medical capacity, military capacity, National Guard capacity, all of these things. 

So the fact that Secretary Esper reached out -- I mean, every day, he has some governors that he's calling and talking to about all of these things. Yesterday, you know, I think as we looked at the situation on the ground inside the district, you know, many things -- our process -- you know, this domestic unrest, civil unrest issue is happening very, very fast. 

You know, normally, when we have a domestic operation and we have to use the EMAC operation agreement, state to state, to share National Guard things, we have a process. And sometimes that process takes a couple hours or even -- even a day, and there are states that get contracts, and figure out who's going to pay what and get everything done. 

I mean, our process is -- we're trying to get around any other bureaucratic roadblocks that may keep us from doing it fast. So the fact that Secretary Esper called some governors yesterday to ask – I was making similar calls to adjutant generals in states, and was offering to call governors as well. 

And so I think that -- again, related to the issues of specific needs internal to other states, I think our desire was to share the -- maybe what we saw the D.C. National Guard is relatively small, and we were forecasting a relatively large, in size and scope, protest activities that -- that we felt needed additional support. So we were trying to speed up that process. 

If that answers your question, I think we did have some -- some attempts to call some governors. And the governors, you know, they do what they do. They assess their environment. And I wasn't getting any different answers from the adjutants general, and general -- Secretary Esper was getting from the -- the couple of governors that -- that he needed to call. So we're just trying to, to the degree that we could, expedite what we saw was the requirement. 

Because we really would like to see all of this stay in a National Guard response to the degree that we have to put any military uniforms against it -- we don't want to see using Title 10 forces, that's not -- that's not what we really want to do. So to try and keep it -- that's what we're doing, is to try and expedite and do whatever we can do to get the forces we need to do it. And it helped. 

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: All right, we'll keep going. So we'll go to Tara Copp from McClatchy.

Q: Thanks, [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1]. And Meghann is graciously letting me listen in on her line, if she could also get a question. 

But for [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2], or for you, [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1], I'd like to know, was it the secretary of the Army that tasked the D.C. National Guard medical helicopter that is usually used for aid and rescue, to be used instead to intimidate the protestors in D.C. last night?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: So I'll -- I will take that -- I will -- disagree with your characterization of that question, but I will -- I will take the question back to -- to D.C. Guard. [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2] and I discussed this earlier on the call, and that was one that we need to get back to you on. So I will get an answer for you guys, and I will -- I will send that to the group. 

Q: Just as a quick follow-up, was it appropriate at all to use a helicopter that is used in aid and rescue, and it is usually a sign of comfort to U.S. citizens, to instead use it to intimidate them?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: So I will take -- take your question, I will get in touch with the D.C. Guard and I will get back to you with an answer. 

So you said Meghann is there. So, Meghann, do you have a question? 

Q: Sure. So, it’s king of a follow-up on that, but in terms of the rules of engagement, you know, there's been a lot of concern that the -- either the active duty or the National Guard troops who are going to be here are going to be used in a law enforcement capacity, last night with that intimidation tactics, that raised a lot of red flags for people. 

What are the rules of engagement that you guys are working with? Where are you drawing the line over what is a legal use of these troops and what would be considered illegal? 

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: So I'm going to -- I'm going to turn that over to [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2]. But just two things I want to point out. It's not rules of engagement. So with -- with the National Guard in this law enforcement setting, they're rules of force. 

And then secondly, there was a good bit of misreporting last night that I know a number of people on this -- this line helped clarify for your publications or your outlets on, and I greatly appreciate that, with regard to the type of -- of weapons or type of munitions that the -- the National Guard had and were making use of. 

So the National Guard in D.C., did not have any nonlethal munitions. They did not have tear gas, they did not have rubber bullets, they did not at any point last night fire on any protestors or do anything of the sort.

So just to clarify that and then I'll turn it over to [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2], if you want to talk about what the rules of force are.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2: Sure. It -- it's a -- so normally when the D.C. National Guard is on duty, they -- they have strictly, kind of, riot gear -- they have nightsticks and -- and shields and masks and they don't carry any weapons and they don't carry any non-lethal weapons, other than the baton, which I told you about yesterday.

The -- the one kind of point I would point out is some of the folks on the front lines of the actual riots do have some pepper spray on them but they don't have -- they're not involved in using any tear gas or -- or any other non-lethal weapons out there.

So we are out there, as we always are, in support of the various police and law enforcement agencies that we -- that we use. Some -- now, some of the National Guard members were armed with side arms and -- and -- and long rifles ... 

Q: (Inaudible) gas?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2: I'm sorry, say again? The -- so they are working out there in support of -- of -- of law enforcement, its authorities. Some of the National Guard members of military police train law enforcement professionals, do have some law enforcement authorities engrained in -- with the police forces in D.C. and that's normal and customary to -- to how we do business everywhere throughout the district. And I'll stop there. Over.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: All right. Thank you. We're going to go Reuters, Phil or Idrees?

Q: Hi there. A quick question to both of you. You had indicated that you don't want to use the active duty forces and -- and [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2], you said that this is the civil -- we're engaging in a civil unrest is one of the things you don't like to do.

Could you both explain why -- why don't you want to use active duty forces explicitly? And -- and to [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2], like -- you know, why does this make you uncomfortable? And -- and -- and if you could be on the record, I'd appreciate it -- if you could tailor your answers to be on the record, I'd appreciate it.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: We're going to stick with on background. I'll -- [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2], if you want to go ahead and take a first crack at that.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2: So yeah, I mean -- so of -- the -- make sure I get -- got the question here, why do we not like this mission? Well I'll -- I'll tell you what, I'll take a -- I'll take a crack at the whole thing. 

First of all, the reason the National Guard members are in this mission and I -- I would say are the preferred instrument, I would guess, of our -- the Department to do it is -- is posse comitatus does not apply. We -- we can -- we can actually do law enforcement activities in -- and as members of -- underneath the command and control of the states that are non-federal that allow us to have these authorities to do it.

Title 10, in normal circumstances, cannot do any law enforcement activities. So that's -- that's rule number one, we're just a better tool and can aid police officers and law enforcement activities, I think, more flexibly than Title 10 forces can.

And -- and the second thing is -- I mean it just is -- these are -- these are -- when we do these kinds of missions, you know, the domestic unrest missions, when -- when you think back on the times in history when we have done them, you know, Arkansas in 1964 or you go to Rodney King, 1992 in Los Angeles, or Baltimore or Ferguson, they are times when there is domestic unrest in our cities and in our communities and it's just not a comfortable place to be.

We would much rather be doing our military skillsets. We are -- we are built to protect lives, we are built to protect property. We -- in our -- in our domestic missions, we preserve peace, we preserve public safety. When we're ever in a position where -- we're directly placed in a position where we might be having the -- have a conflict with our communities, it's not a fun -- it's not a fun or enjoyable job to do.

We -- we can help enforce the laws and we do that. We enforce the laws of cities and states underneath the accountable, elected civilian officials where we live, ‘cause we work for them and -- and that's -- that's how and why we do it but it's not a -- it's not a good, fun mission. Nobody likes breaking up a -- a fight. Over.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: Yeah and -- and I would just add to that -- is as we've talked about with -- with the National Guard in particular but also with all of our troops is, you know, these are their communities, these are their homes and -- and when they're called on to perform these -- these missions dealing with civil unrest, it shows that there's some very difficult times taking place in their communities and no one wants to see that.

So I think from the perspective of all of the military personnel, we would prefer that they're -- they're not in this unrest, that they're -- that they're in calmer times and that they're being more of a -- of a -- of a normal operations for them.

So, I think that it's -- it's -- as [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2] laid out, it's -- it's something where they're the right people for the job based on the skillsets, the training, the authorities they have, but they're also people in those communities and I -- and I think it's -- it's -- it's easy to say that they would probably prefer -- they -- they would -- they would prefer there not be the type of -- of violence and -- and rioting that we've seen in a -- in a few places, in a -- in a few isolated incidents over the last week.

So all right, we'll keep going.

Q: This is a follow-up, then. So there's no -- it's not a constitutional issue for you all at all, it's just they don't like having to deal with this kind of violence?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: I think the -- the -- sorry, I think the question -- the answer we just gave from [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2]’s perspective was -- was specific to the National Guard in this. Does that -- does that answer your question? I don't -- I don't know if I'm missing ... 

Q: No, I understood on the Guard. I was talking about the active duty forces.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: Well the use of active duty forces is governed by law. And so we are very well aware of -- of the legal constraints. I would imagine that for many of our active duty forces, as well, they would much prefer that -- that there not be the type of activities taking place and that they not see this type of violence in -- in their communities, as well. So I think that would -- would apply to our active duty forces as well as our National Guard forces.

But with regard to -- to using them -- but we're aware of the -- we're aware of the law and the law and the requirements that would have to take place for that and -- and we're aware of the -- the implications of that and what that would -- would entail.

So right now, we're focused on the National Guard support and bolstering the National Guard as much as possible, bolstering state and local law enforcement as much -- and federal law enforcement as much as possible. And as we saw over the last couple of days, we've seen the -- the amount of violence and unrest decrease as -- as more National Guard and police forces are -- are applied to -- to some of these situations.

All right, we'll keep going. We'll -- Washington Post? I don't know, Dan or Missy, if either of you are on?

Q: Yep, I'm on the call, thanks. So I -- I just wanted to clarify something that you mentioned -- both of you mentioned regarding the National Guard forces and the incident last night, clearing the -- the protestors.

So I understand, [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2] , that you were saying that the National Guard forces did not have things like tear gas, rubber bullets, if I -- if I heard you correctly, but were they taking part in -- can you clarify were they taking part in were they there (inaudible) it has been reported and were they taking part in clearing the protestors in other ways? I think that's an important clarification. And also, can you just help us understand what the chain of command is? And this sort of goes to Tara's question as well. What the chain of command is for the D.C. National Guard, you know as they're -- who's deciding what they do and how does that relate to the Task Force, the DOJ [Department of Justice]? That is still a little bit unclear to me. Thanks. 

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: You're correct, there were no -- the National Guard forces do not have tear gas, do not have the rubber bullets so they did not do any of the firing. 

I will -- I will get back to you unless [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2], unless you know the answer to this, on what law enforcement activity the National Guard was involved with, and specifically last night in the District of Columbia. I don't have that level of visibility, but I can get back to you on that one. 

And then the second question was the chain of command. 

Q: Yeah, what is the chain of command? Yeah .

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2], do you want to take that one?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2: So the way -- the way that the chain of command works is -- in D.C., is all of the National Guard members who are deployed throughout the city are under the command of the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, Major General William Walker. 

And he is in charge of all of the military forces that come in here. All of the forces that come in from the other states and territories to assist the D.C. National Guard will be under his command for operational deployment and the like. 

General Walker reports to the secretary of the Army, as there is no governor in the District of Columbia. And so that's the way that's working. And the secretary has given General Walker his directions to help the military police the district law enforcement agencies, protect buildings, federal installations, monuments. You know, peace, order and public safety. And that's -- that's the way it's working right now. 

And General Walker in -- in a kind of unified coordination, unified command sense, is working with all of the law enforcement agencies inside the -- inside the district. Over. 

Q: [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1], if you could clarify that one point for us that would be great. Thanks. 

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: Sure. And just to be clear, like, this type of command structure is very common when we deal with national disasters and other areas where there's a large flood of -- of federal law enforcement and military and civil and local law enforcement. 

So unity of effort and -- and the goal is to collocate people, keep the lines of communication open closely so everybody is -- has a good understanding of what each other is doing. 

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: All right, I think we have time for -- for a couple more questions. 

Jennifer or -- or Lucas?

Q: Jennifer hopped off the call. We're giving her copies of it, so -- she did that so you could get on the call. Unless I'm mistaken. Jennifer, are you on? 

But, this is Carla, I can ask the question for them. 

(CROSSTALK)

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: Feel free, Carla.

Q: Thanks. I was curious, [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2], how stretched is the National Guard right now? I know this is an historic deployment on the homeland. Are you considering bringing some people from abroad in or what are you doing to try to make sure you have enough troops available?

And then, [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1], if you could just quickly go through exactly -- are there any other places -- you explained to Lita that in D.C. there's no active duty troops deployed, but are there any other areas where active duty troops are preparing to deploy tonight or have moved in, like they have here in D.C.?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: I'll take the second question first. And at this time, no. The only area where we have moved active duty forces on a shortened alert status is into the NCR. 

So, [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2], do you want to take the other one? 

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2: Sure. I got that. 

So as I mentioned, we're just a little over 100,000 operationally engaged right now, and while that's -- while the biggest in history domestic operations -- between the COVID response and the civil unrest response, it is the biggest -- so we have had more deployed. If you go back to 2005, you know, we had about 100,000 in Iraq and Afghanistan, and -- and 50,000 on top of that for Katrina. 

So this is obviously something we think about and we look at. I was looking, this morning, tropical depression number three here, on the second day of hurricane season is hitting down there off the Yucatan, and we're starting to watch that to see if that's going to come up in the next week or so. 

But all the states report that, you know, for normal domestic expected activities -- hurricanes or such, less than -- less than what we have, like, you know, maybe a Category 3 or so, everybody's got enough to handle any of those things. Nobody expects to have any shortfalls. 

We are clearly all still supporting our active military deployment responsibilities, and we have -- some of those are continuous and ongoing as an operational part of the United States Army, United States Air Force and maybe Space Force -- I'll throw that out there.

And also, the -- so short answer is, no we aren't short, no we're not considering bringing anybody home. And -- but as an op tempo, operational tempo is going, you know, this is -- you know, we're not just walking now, we're starting to walk briskly if -- if that's it. But we have plenty left in the tank. Over.

(CROSSTALK)

Q: ... This Tom Bowman. Can I get a question...

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: Guy, guys, guys. We're going to do two -- two last ones. So Travis Tritten?

Q: I'm OK, [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1], thank you. 

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: OK, all right. Nick Schifrin?

Q: Hey, guys, thank you very much for doing this. 

[SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2] just to -- to the last point about D.C. that you were making, and how it is different than it would work in the states. Muriel Bowser has complained about some federal police actions and her interactions with some federal troops -- of course that includes D.C. National Guard. 

So can you speak to whether from your perspective, the coordination between local officials in Washington, D.C. and D.C. National Guard is working well enough?

And, [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1], to go back to where we started with this conversation, could I just bring you back to the larger question. Between the secretary's using the word "battlespace," the chairman walking out into the streets of Washington last night, you know, do you believe that there is an over-militarization of what is a law enforcement issue? And given the photo op -- what you've said -- is there a politicalization of the military right now? Thanks. 

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: Well, let me -- let me take the -- the first part of that as well. And [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2], feel free to weigh in. 

Just from the perspective of -- I was at the command center last night until pretty late with -- with General Walker, Secretary McCarthy, Secretary Esper, Attorney General Barr, General Milley, Director Wray and others. 

The Metropolitan Police, the D.C. police, were well-represented, Capitol Police. There was a very clear unity of effort, very clear lines of communication among the people who were running this operation minute to minute. 

So I think there has been a -- an effort that is -- is built up over many years of handling large events in the District of Columbia that requires coordination between a number of federal law enforcement, local law enforcement, and federal military resources. So as you guys know with the inauguration, State of the Union, presidential -- presidential funerals, there's a lot of coordination that takes place.

And so those -- those relationships have been built up over years. They're strong, they work. I can't speak specifically for the -- the -- the mayor. I -- I do know that leadership at the Department has been in contact with her and the Chief of Police on a -- on a routine basis. I know that Secretary McCarthy in particular has had a number of conversations with her -- has reached out to her office multiple times over the last few days.

So I -- I would say I believe that the -- the conversation, particularly on the tactical level, is -- communication on the tactical level's very -- very strong. So [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2], I don't know if you have anything else to add on that?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2: No, I -- I saw the -- yesterday, the greeting -- the meeting at the SIOC [Strategic Information & Operations] with all of -- many of those same people that you mentioned, as we came together for how this would all operate yesterday. I was there in that meeting and I would say that the city police, the Metro police, the park police, all of the -- all of the authorities that -- that needed to make sure we protected lives, protected people, maintained, you know, public safety were all there and I think, you know, at the tactical level, dealing directly with the commander, general, of the D.C. Guard was -- was well done.

I -- I can't tie that to Mayor Bowser but I think at the tactical level it was very, very well done. Over.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 1: So -- and then on the -- the second part of your question, I -- I would -- Nick, I would -- I would just note a few things. First off, we did have, I believe, somewhere north of 1,200 National Guard forces deployed throughout the -- the District last evening but there were far more law enforcement deployed. This was a law enforcement mission that was predominantly civilian law enforcement.

We were in support -- you know, I was -- as I mentioned, at the command center, the maps – the places where you had National Guard that were co-located with law enforcement generally in -- in -- in equal numbers or -- or somewhat less, and then you had areas where the -- the law enforcement -- the Metropolitan Police Department Park police and others had a -- had a much more significant presence.

So despite the military having a role, despite the National Guard having a role, this was a predominantly and will remain a predominantly civilian law enforcement effort and that has been our -- our intention and that's what we saw yesterday. You saw the -- the Department of Justice flood an additional 1,811 federal law enforcement officers, whether ATF [Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms], Secret Service, CBP [Customs and Border Protection] I believe had a presence last night, park police, Capitol police. You had law enforcement officers from -- from up and down the spectrum who were assisting.

And then I'd just point out that DOJ remains the lead for the efforts in the District of Columbia. As the President noted, the -- the Attorney General as -- is the lead. Although the military and the Department is involved, General Milley remains an advisor to the President or remains an advisor to the Secretary. His role has not -- not changed in that, his statutory role as an advisor remains.

And so we see this as an extension of -- of missions we've had in the past and we see this as -- hopefully we will see the -- the need for having National Guard troops deployed alongside law enforcement diminish in the coming days.

All right, so I know -- I know there's other questions but we've got to drop because we've got another event here in 10 minutes. If you guys have follow-up questions, feel free to e-mail me and Chris and the duty officer and I will spend the -- the -- the next however long I need to trying to answer some additional questions with that.

So thank you guys and thank you to [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2] for jumping on.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2: Thanks, everybody. [SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL 2] out, see you.