WASHINGTON — The more than 1,600 active-duty soldiers who were called to Washington, D.C., in case President Donald Trump invoked the Insurrection Act to deal with protesters may soon go back to their bases around the country "if conditions allow," a senior defense official told NBC News.
More than 700 soldiers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division who have been in Washington since Monday are being sent back to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on Thursday night, the official said.
A decision to send the soldiers from the 82nd Airborne back south was made Wednesday but then reversed, the official said, because the administration got word that there might be a large demonstration in the capital this weekend and wanted to make sure it could respond. "Now they are confident they can," the official said.
Full coverage of George Floyd's death and protests around the country
The official said that "if conditions allow," hundreds more soldiers from the 91st Military Police Battalion will return to Fort Drum, New York, on Friday and that others could follow.
The soldiers from the 82nd Airborne, who had been waiting at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, were never called into the city to confront protesters. The decision to send them home was made again Thursday afternoon.
More than 1,600 active-duty troops from Fort Bragg, Fort Drum and Fort Riley, Kansas, began arriving in the capital area Monday. They have been staying at multiple military installations in the capital area.