Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen broke his silence Tuesday to say he was 'sickened' by the use of U.S. National Guard forces to push protesters out of Lafayette park to make way for President Trump's photo-op.
'I am deeply worried that as they execute their orders, the members of our military will be co-opted for political purposes,' Mullen warned.
'I have to date been reticent to speak out on issues surrounding President Trump's leadership, but we are at an inflection point, and the events of the past few weeks have made it impossible to remain silent,' Milley wrote in the Atlantic.
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Retired Admiral Mike Mullen warned of the military being 'co-opted for political purposes' Tuesday
Mullen termed Trump's staged visit to fire-damaged St. John's church Monday a 'stunt' that raised serious issues about the role of the military in U.S. society.
'Whatever Trump's goal in conducting his visit, he laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country, gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife, and risked further politicizing the men and women of our armed forces.'
He called attention to 'institutional racism' and 'police brutality' in the wake of the death of Geroge Floyd at the hands of police, while also condemning street violence.
President Donald Trump walks with US Attorney General William Barr (L), US Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper (C), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark A. Milley (R), and others from the White House to visit St. John's Church after the area was cleared of people protesting the death of George Floyd June 1, 2020, in Washington, DC
Trucks transport District of Columbia National Guard troops along West Executive Drive in support of law enforcement officers that are keeping demonstrators away from the White House June 01, 2020
Federal military police and park police forced protesters from Lafayette park outside the White House
President Donald Trump walks past police in Lafayette Park after visiting outside St. John's Church across from the White House Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Part of the church was set on fire during protests on Sunday night
Retired Adm. Mike Mullen warned of the military being politicized
Former Jt. Chiefs chair Gen. Martin Dempsey
His op-ed comes a day after Trump declared himself the 'law and order president' and said he would deploy 'thousands and thousands' of troops to American cities to restore order.
Mullen said he didn't have confidence in the orders Trump would give – and said it would be inappropriate to use the 1807 Insurrection Act as the basis for using U.S. troops to impose order on U.S. cities. Federal law generally prohibits the use of the military for domestic purposes.
'I remain confident in the professionalism of our men and women in uniform,' Mullen wrote.
'They will serve with skill and with compassion. They will obey lawful orders. But I am less confident in the soundness of the orders they will be given by this commander in chief, and I am not convinced that the conditions on our streets, as bad as they are, have risen to the level that justifies a heavy reliance on military troops,' he added.
Former Jt. Chiefs chair Gen. Martin Dempsey wrote that America was not a 'battleground,' after Defense Sec. Mark Esper spoke of dominating the 'battle-space' here
'Certainly, we have not crossed the threshold that would make it appropriate to invoke the provisions of the Insurrection Act.
The retired Navy admiral served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama from 2007 through 2011.
Mullen's successor as chair of the joint chiefs, General Martin Dempsey, also blasted Trump's move.
'America’s military, our sons and daughters, will place themselves at risk to protect their fellow citizens. Their job is unimaginably hard overseas; harder at home. Respect them, for they respect you. America is not a battleground. Our fellow citizens are not the enemy,' Dempsey wrote. '#BeBetter,' he concluded, in what could be a take on first lady Melania Trump's Be Best campaign.
The current chair of the joint chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley, was seen in battle fatigues accompanying Trump on his walk to St. John's.
Just minutes after Mullen's article was posted, the Washington Post reported on the use of military helicopters with red cross insignia being used to show force to protesters was being called a 'foolish move' by Geoffrey Corn, a former Army lawyer.