Some 700 of the mobilized troops from the 82nd Airborne Division already went back to their base at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Thursday. The remaining 900 were expected to leave bases in Maryland and Virginia as soon as possible for Fort Bragg and Fort Drum, N.Y. Their return was to have started on Wednesday, but Defense Secretary Mark Esper reversed a departure order from Army Secretary McCarthy after meeting Wednesday afternoon with the president.
The defense secretary had publicly declared earlier Wednesday that he did not support invoking the Insurrection Act, which authorizes the use of federal troops for domestic disturbances. On Friday, hundreds of former national security officials, diplomats and retired military flag officers signed a strongly worded statement denouncing Trump's calls for using of the military to squelch protests.
A commissioned officer in a nation's armed forces senior enough to be entitled to fly a flag to mark the position from which the officer exercises command.
26 retired general and flag officers opposed Trump's transgender military ban.