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June 10, 2020

Letter from Retired Military Leaders on the Militarized Response to Protests

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We the undersigned state the following:

President Trump has threatened to deploy active-duty military to try to quell the nationwide unrest sparked by the police’s killing of George Floyd. As retired leaders in the U.S. military, we believe such an action would be not only unnecessary but also counterproductive. We urge the nation’s governors to continue to resist the President’s attempt to militarize the response.

Our country has a wise tradition of keeping the U.S. military out of domestic law enforcement. Like the deployment of troops abroad, their deployment at home should only be a last resort. Nothing happening in the country right now comes close to requiring this extraordinary step. States and cities have sufficient resources to address those exploiting otherwise peaceful protests to commit crimes. At the same time, officials at all levels should work to meet the demands of the law-abiding protestors justifiably enraged by the loss of Black lives, systemic racism and police brutality.

Just as we reject the militarization of the response, we reject the politicization of our armed forces. The U.S. military is among the most admired institutions in the country, and rightly so. It should be no one’s prop.

This is a particularly challenging time for our country: a broad and restive protest movement against the backdrop of a pandemic and related economic distress. It calls for bold and imaginative leadership. If the President is unable to provide it, he should at least try to do no harm.

Sincerely,

Michael Hayden
General, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)
ames T. Hill
General, U.S. Army (Ret.)
David Maddox
General, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Johnnie Wilson
General, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Vern “Rusty” Findley
Lieutenant General, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)

Robert Gard
Lieutenant General, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Mike LeFever
Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Norman Seip
Lieutenant General, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)
Joe Sestak
Former Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy
Joseph T. Anderson
Major General, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)
Arthur Bartell
Major General, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Paul Eaton
Major General, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Wilton Scott Gorske
Major General, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Dennis Laich
Major General, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Steve Lepper
Major General, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)
Dee Ann McWilliams
Major General, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Michael Symanski
Major General, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Antonio Taguba
Major General, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Margaret Woodward
Major General, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)
Robert Besal
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
David Boone
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Don Guter
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Norman Hayes
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
John Hutson
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Archer Macy, Jr.
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
David Oliver Jr.
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Chris Sadler
Rear Admiral, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Timothy Sullivan
Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.)
Robert Wray
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Leif Hendrickson
Brigadier General, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)
David Irvine
Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Ret.)
John Johns
Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Jenenne Nelson
Brigadier General, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)
Murray Sagsveen
Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Paul Gregory Smith
Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Daniel Woodward
Brigadier General, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)
Kevin Wooten
Brigadier General, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)
Stephen Xenakis
Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Ret.)

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