Utah Guard Sends Green Berets to DC to Assist in Civil Unrest Response

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Demonstrators stand in front of D.C. National Guard during a protest over the death of George Floyd.
Demonstrators stand in front of D.C. National Guard and other law enforcement officers during a peaceful protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, on June 3, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Utah National Guard deployed teams of Green Berets to Washington, D.C., this week to join thousands of Guard members from 10 states converging on the nation's capital in response to civil unrest near the White House.

Demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis police custody, have spread across the country and essentially shut down the District of Columbia during the evening hours.

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The D.C. National Guard has activated about 1,200 personnel, and about 3,300 Guard members from Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah have been ordered to D.C. at the request of President Donald Trump.

While some are military police, many other Guard members, with job specialties ranging from aircraft maintainers to supply specialists, now man roadblocks and stand guard at the Lincoln Memorial and other key sites in the city while assisting law enforcement.

Utah sent about 200 soldiers, including Green Berets from the 19th Special Forces Group who were already postured for a deployment and were quickly reassigned after the president's request for support, National Guard officials said.

They flew on a KC-135R aircraft from Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base in Salt Lake City to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on Tuesday, according to Guard officials.

"The Utah Army National Guard sent a number of Special Forces Guardsmen to support civil authority in Washington, D.C.," Master. Sgt. Michael Houk, a spokesman for the National Guard Bureau, said in a statement.

But Guard officials maintain that the Green Berets were simply available and are supporting the effort in D.C. where they are needed, rather than conducting their traditional unconventional warfare mission.

"They are going to send us what they have available," Capt. Kyle Sullivan, spokesman for the D.C. National Guard, told Military.com.

Houk agreed that the Guard mission in D.C. does not require elite specialties for supporting law enforcement.

"The reason they were selected and sent is because they were already prepared for deployment," Houk said.

So far, about 32,400 Guard troops have been activated in 32 states and in D.C. to support the civil unrest response.

In addition, the Pentagon on Monday ordered about 1,600 active-duty soldiers from the Army's XVIII Airborne Corps to deploy to the region in case they are needed to support Guard forces in D.C. The deployment included an infantry battalion from the 82nd Airborne Division and the 16th Military Police Brigade headquarters out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as well as the 91st MP Battalion from Fort Drum, New York.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

Related: These Are the Active-Duty Units Deployed to DC Region for Protests

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