ASHINGTON (Reuters) – After a summer of civil unrest over racial injustice in the United States, the National Guard has put hundreds of military police on standby specifically to help law enforcement deal with any potential violence in the coming months, three U.S. military officials have told Reuters.
Officials said the units, consisting of about 600 military police stationed in Arizona and Alabama, were a response to the lessons learned during the violent upheaval after a Black man, George Floyd, died in late May when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.
While the units were not specifically created to address potential violence around the Nov. 3 elections, their existence highlights how the military could help deal with unrest around the vote without deploying active duty troops to cities – a key tenet for Pentagon leadership.
A senior National Guard official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the military police “Rapid Response Units” had been established in the past month and could deploy to any part of the country within 24 hours if requested by a governor.
“We’re in very unique times right now in our country, we’ve seen several instances of where civil disturbances escalated very quickly to riots, extensive property damage,” the official said. The units would be on standby until at least the end of the year, the official said.
In the campaign, tensions have risen over Republican President Donald Trump’s calls for his supporters to act as ad-hoc poll watchers here. Democr….