WASHINGTON (AP) — Several hundred active-duty troops brought in to help if needed with the civil unrest in the nation’s capitol are leaving Washington, D.C. Thursday, just a day after their initially planned departure was abruptly delayed.
The soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division have been kept at military bases outside the city, and will now return to Fort Bragg, N.C., according to a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss impending troop movements. The official said Defense Secretary Mark Esper has approved the move.
On Wednesday, defense officials approved an order to send the soldiers home, but just a few hours later Esper reversed the decision, keeping them outside the city for another day amid growing tensions with the White House over the military response to the protests.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told The Associated Press that he was told about the reversal after Esper attended a meeting at the White House Wednesday, and after other internal Pentagon discussions. McCarthy said he believed the change was based on ensuring there is enough military support in the region to respond to any protest problems if needed.