Pentagon ordered National Guard helicopter's aggressive response in D.C.

Top Pentagon officials ordered National Guard helicopters to use what they called “persistent presence” to disperse protests in the capital this week, according to military officials. The loosely worded order prompted a series of low-altitude maneuvers that human rights organizations quickly criticized as a show of force usually reserved for combat zones.

Ryan D. McCarthy, the Army secretary and one of the officials who authorized part of the planning for the helicopters’ mission Monday night, said on Friday that the Army had opened an investigation into the episode…

Military officials said that the National Guard’s aggressive approach to crowd control was prompted by a pointed threat from the Pentagon: If the Guard was unable to handle the situation, then active-duty military units, such as a rapid-reaction unit of the 82nd Airborne Division, would be sent into the city.