July 21, 2020
To the American Public:
We are retired flag-rank officers who support President Trump’s recent declarations
that the tolerance of widespread rioting and lawlessness by various U.S. state and local
political authorities is unacceptable. Furthermore, we write in opposition to the
criticism by those who have claimed or implied that the deployment of the military to
quell unchecked urban rioting would be an authoritarian departure from American
history. Such claims are ill-informed and dangerous. To be clear, none of us want to see
the active military used in a civil law enforcement/civil unrest role unless all other
options have been exhausted.
As members of the military we have seen the effects that war, killing and violence have
upon civilian populations. The predations and crimes visited upon the innocent when
law and order have vanished are horrible. That is true whether it be in Mogadishu,
Mosul, Benghazi, or New York City.
If the political leadership of a state and municipality refuses to stop an outbreak of
violence or an insurrection that endangers the lives of American citizens, the president
has been empowered to act by the Constitution1 and Congress through the Insurrection
Act 0f 1807 to use the military to restore order. With respect to the use of the “military”
we include both the National Guard (“the Guard”) and Active Duty military units.
State governors are empowered to deploy the Guard – as the governor of Minnesota did
recently. The Guard is trained to operate effectively in such environments as a last
resort when local police and sheriffs are overwhelmed by rioting. However, if State and
local governments do not act, the president may federalize the National Guard and
deploy them.2
There may even be rare circumstances in which the Guard may not be sufficient to
handle a large-scale crisis. For example, Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy both
deployed regular military forces during several desegregation emergencies without State
consent. The refusal of State and local authorities to stop the destruction of a city by
riots should provide the emergency authority necessary to take such an extraordinary
measure of last resort.3
1 U.S. CONST. art. I, § 8, cl. 15.
2 10 U.S. Code § 12406. See also, Lindsay P. Cohn, “Yes, Trump Can Send the Military to Shut Down the
Protests. Here’s What You Need to Know,” Washington Post, June 2, 2020,
3 32 C.F.R. § 215.4(c)(1)(i).
In closing, we fervently hope and pray that state and local authorities will promptly
restore law and order should there be further outbreaks of rioting. But if not, President
Trump has the authority to take extraordinary measures under such circumstances. We
concur that the use of active duty military units should be a last resort, but we know that
eleven presidents have invoked the Insurrection Act of 1807 on twenty occasions.
Notwithstanding the non-stop hostility of the news media, President Trump has
established a record of being cautious and restrained when using military power. We
are confident that he will be extremely prudent in deploying the military domestically in
such circumstances as may arise. We believe our President will do what is necessary to
support and defend the Constitution and preserve this Constitutional Republic.
Although we realize there are other military officers who disagree we stand with the
President at this difficult time.
Gen Buck Kernan, US Army (Ret)
LTG William G. Boykin, US Army (Ret)
LTG Thomas G. McInerney, US Air Force
LTG Jay Garner, US Army (Ret)
LTG John Pickler, US Army, (Ret)
LTG Ronald Watts, US Army (Ret)
LTG John Woodmansee, US Army (Ret)
LTG Dennis Cavin, US Army (Ret)
LTG Jim Bates, US Army (Ret)
LTG Joe Cosumano, US Army (Ret)
LTG David Mann, US Army (Ret)
LTG John Riggs, US Army
RADM Frank Gallo, US Navy (Ret)
MG Walter Yates, US Army (Ret)
MG Raphael Hallada, US Army (Ret)
MG Jim Cravens, US Army (Ret)
MG Robert Hicks, US Army (Ret)
MG Dewitt T. Irby, US Army (Ret)
MG Thomas Lightner, US Army
MG Joe Owens, US Army (Ret)
MG Paul E Vallely, US Army (Ret)
MG Robert F Dees, US Army (Ret)
MG James Maloney, US Army (Ret)
MG Vernon Lewis, US Army (Ret)
MG Travis Dyer, US Army (Ret)
MG Peter Franklin, US Army (Ret)
MG James Bassham, US Air National Guard
MG Max Haston, US Army National Guard
MG Don Infante, US Army (Ret)
MG Roger Mathews, US Army (Ret)
MG Bruce Moore, US Army (Ret)
MG Gary L. Harrell, US Army (Ret)
BG Randal McIntire, US Army (Ret)
MG Gus Hargett, US Army National Guard
BG Daniel Montgomery, US Army (Ret)
BG Joe Oder, US Army (Ret)
BG Flood Walters, US Air Force(Ret)
BG Bobby Woods, US Air Force (Ret)
BG Uri French, US Army (Ret)
BG Dick Black, US Army (Ret)
BG Terry Ethridge, US Army National
Guard (Ret)
BG Mike Scholes, US Army National Guard
BG Morgan Gillett, US Army (Ret)
BG Jeff Horne, US Army (Ret)
BG Rick McCabe, US Army (Ret)
BG Stanislaus Houy, US Army (Ret)
Col. Rob Maness, US Air Force (Ret)