By Tom Squitieri, Talk Media News
WASHINGTON — Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Tuesday the Defense Department is now reviewing the investigation into why military helicopters flew dangerously low over demonstrators during a June 1 protest in Washington D.C.
“The Army has completed its portion of the investigation,” McCarthy told Pentagon reporters. “The DoD (Department of Defense) IG (inspector general) is reviewing it. I understand its completion is imminent and it will be released when completed.
The Army opened an investigation into reports — including video footage — of Army UH-60 Black Hawk and UH-72 Lakota helicopters with medical markings that flew low enough to kick up debris snd caused disruption on demonstrators who were allegedly breaking a 7 p.m. curfew.
Army officials have been mum about the investigation, but Maj. Gen. William Walker, commander of the D.C. National Guard, told reporters in early June that “there was no order” given for helicopters to fly low “to disperse the crowd.”
In early summer, McCarthy had said the investigation would be completed quickly. On June 5, he told reporters that the investigation would be “coming to a close shortly.”
On June 8 he said it could be completed within a week of that date.
“The utilization of helicopters was authorized by me to the National Guard to observe and report,” McCarthy said then. He declined to comment.
On July 9, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told the House Armed Services Committee that the investigation had been completed and the DoD OIG was expected to review it.
On Tuesday, McCarthy also said that there have not been any requests for other agencies “at this time” for military support during the November election. He said that the Army is “always available to support.”
McCarthy, as Army secretary, has ultimate control of the DC National Guard, acting in the role of a governor since the District of Columbia is not a state.
Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James McConville, speaking at the same press conference, said there has been “no planning or guidance” given “to or from the Army” regarding the use of any military police units during the election. “Our soldiers and units are always prepared for a mission,” he said.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Dana Clarke)