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Lengyel: Military Should Stay Out of Civil-Unrest Missions

By Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

Civil-unrest response efforts should be undertaken by law-enforcement authorities, not U.S. troops, National Guard Bureau Chief Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel said July 2 during an event hosted by the Brookings Institution think tank. “In my opinion, uniforms, I don’t care what flavor they are—Title 10, Active-duty, National Guard, Reserve—uniforms being out there in law-enforcement situations is not optimal,” he told Brookings Senior Fellow Michael E. O’Hanlon during a live-streamed conversation about the state of the Guard. “We should do as little of it as we can, and it should be predominantly a law-enforcement, police operation and when they need us, we can and we will come. But we should do what we can to avoid that.” As of the morning of July 2, approximately 570 Guard personnel—including about 60 Air Guardsmen—were still activated in six states and the nation’s capital to back up law enforcement in case unrest broke out, down from nearly 41,500 at the beginning of June.