It appears that in terms of responding to the mass protests and rioting that has rocked cities across the nation, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is not on the same page as President Donald Trump.
While the president has sought to display strength in the face of the civil unrest, Esper has seemingly adopted a softer approach, which reportedly included an order that National Guard troops in the nation’s capital were to patrol unarmed and without protective helmets, Breitbart reported.
Esper at odds with Trump
An unnamed administration official reportedly told Breitbart that Secretary Esper issued the order on Friday regarding the disarming of the troops and the requirement that they wear soft caps instead of helmets.
That would appear to be in direct opposition to what President Trump wanted since the escalation of the demonstrations began — namely, thousands of well-armed and well-protected Guard members patrolling the streets of D.C. to act as a deterrent against any further rioting, looting, and vandalism.
Nonetheless, word is that Esper personally ordered the leaders of the D.C. National Guard to secure any and all weapons brought into the city by other National Guard units arriving from around the country to bolster the city’s security presence.
The anonymous official also told Breitbart about the order for the citizen-soldiers to wear soft caps instead of helmets, and said of Esper, “He’s not really on board with what the president is trying to do.”
To prove the point regarding soft caps instead of helmets, Breitbart shared a social media post that purported to show a contingent of Florida National Guard troops in D.C. who, sure enough, were wearing soft caps instead of helmets with their uniforms.
Just moments ago, here in DC. Florida National Guard Soldiers from the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team swear in as temporary U.S. Marshals in support of citizens at the Nation’s Capital. pic.twitter.com/p81dz0WQPY
— GEORGE 🇺🇸 (@TheCollectiveQ) June 6, 2020
However, if the caption on that post is to be believed, those Guard members were being sworn in as temporary deputies in the U.S. Marshals Service — meaning, they would no longer be under the chain of command reporting to Sec. Esper and would instead fall under the jurisdiction of the Justice Department and Attorney General Bill Barr.
Days may be numbered
As for the troops under Esper’s purview being unarmed, the National Guard confirmed that its soldiers in D.C. would not carry guns. A spokesperson for Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy confirmed that he had been “directed” — presumably by Esper — to disarm any troops that entered the district from other parts of the country.
That said, the spokesperson noted that only about a dozen or so soldiers actually had any weapons in the city prior to the order, and those weapons were unloaded — though the soldiers did carry ammunition.
All of this is just the latest sign that Esper, much like his predecessor Secretary James Mattis, isn’t fully on board with the president, and speculation is mounting that his tenure at the helm of the Defense Department may soon be drawing to a close.