US Army ceremonial unit receives bayonets in case it is sent to protest in Washington

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TOPLINE

Old Guard Soldiers, an Army unit based outside of Washington, DC, received bayonets, scabbards and live ammunition in preparation for deployment to police protests in the capital, according to a letter from Pentagon leaders obtained by Bloomberg.

HIGHLIGHTS

The Old Guard is the Army’s oldest active-duty infantry regiment and performs primarily ceremonial functions, including escorting the President, but its mission also includes the security of Washington, DC, in the event of a national emergency. or civil unrest.

Up to 800 members of the unit were on high alert for deployment to the Washington DC protests over the weekend, as noted in the letter to the House Armed Services Committee gathered by Bloomberg.

Soldiers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division were also in standby, and would also have received fixed bayonets.

US Marines are still training use bayonets, but the U.S. military removed it from its basic training program in 2010.

Key context

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley apologized Thursday for walking through Lafayette Square with President Trump for the president’s bible photo shoot outside St. John’s Church, which took place after the surrounding area was forcibly cleared of peaceful protesters. Milley mentionned, “My presence at this time and in this environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”

National guards said Politico they were not comfortable with the way they were used to suppress largely peaceful protests. “The crowd was loud but peaceful, and at no point did I feel unsafe, and I was just standing there in front of the line,” said a National Guard official who spoke with. Politico anonymously. “A lot of us are still struggling to solve this problem, but in many ways I believe I saw civil rights violated for a photoshoot.”

Further reading

US Army unit received bayonets to prepare for DC protest duty (Bloomberg)

Senior General apologizes for taking part in Trump photo at church (Bloomberg)

‘What I saw was absolutely wrong’: National Guards fight their role in controlling protests (Politico)

State-of-the-art weapons (Slate)

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