Hundreds of former military officials and diplomats have signed an open letter (Silliman, et al.) to President Trump denouncing his intention to use the U.S. military against protesters (Just Security, Foreign Policy, Newsweek). Several dozen retired military leaders have posted a similar response in an opinion piece in the Washington Post (WP, Time, Newsweek). These are significant responses, not so much for their stridency, as for the unity of the military that they suggest. Of course, current military leaders can not make such statements, so hearing from former ones gives us an insight into what the active branches are likely thinking. Trump seems to generally assume (or, at least, state) that anyone he admires (usually people with power) support him. Usually these statement go unchecked (because, why bother?). So, to have so many prominent military personnel call him out is significant. Losing military support is always a bad sign for a national leader.
The Silliman letter ends like this:
Declaring peaceful protestors “thugs” and “terrorists” and falsely seeking to divide Americans into those who support “law and order” and those who do not will not end the demonstrations. The deployment of military forces against American citizens exercising their constitutional rights will not heal the divides in our society.
We urge the President and state and local governments to focus their efforts on uniting the country and supporting reforms to ensure equal police treatment of all citizens, regardless of race or ethnicity.
Ultimately, the issues that have driven the protests cannot be addressed by our military. They must be resolved through political processes.