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Defense Officials: Law Enforcement in Military Garb not Appropriate

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Border Patrol Tactical Unit (“BPTU”), its immediate response force, arrived in Portland to quell the destructive protests. Concerns were raised when video showed the BPTU agents were recorded wearing what appeared to be U.S. Army uniforms.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper promptly raised his concerns about uniform misappropriation to the Trump administration. “The secretary has expressed a concern of this within the administration, that we want a system where people can tell the difference,” said Defense Department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman.

Hoffman addressed concerns as early as June about certain uniforms making agents of law enforcement appear to be military personnel.

Lawmakers began demanding answers after video footage and photographs of law enforcement appearing to wear Army camouflage while confronting protestors. Many officials refused to identify not only themselves individually but wouldn’t even identify the agency they represent. The BPTU, like many law enforcement agencies, often wear uniforms with custom patches that appear very similar to those of the military. This caused many Americans to believe the military was on our streets. Adding more confusion to the situation, there were various activists also wearing similar military-style outfits to the protests.

“You want a clear definition between that which is military and that which is the police,” said U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Milley had previously expressed reservations about military uniforms on law enforcement when quelling protestors, believing there should be a blatant “visual distinction” between military personnel and those of law enforcement. That seems like a reasonable idea to most Americans. 


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