Active-duty soldiers ordered to pull out of Washington D.C.

Most troops sent to D.C. have been pulled out
Most troops sent to D.C. have been pulled out... 01:28

Fort Myer, Virginia —Most of the soldiers deployed to Washington D.C. to deal with the ongoing protests have been pulled out. Still, 150 troops remain on alert at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia.

Five hundred soldiers packed their gear and headed home. The order to pull out came quickly and the Army chief of staff James McConville explained why. 

"The last thing we want to do is commit active-duty soldiers in our hometowns, in our cities. Only as the last resort," McConville said.

Their pepper spray and tear gas is already packed, but each soldier is still carrying his assault rifle — combat troops poised for action poised just outside the nation's capital. 

Fort Myer is the high ground commanding the District of Columbia. From 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. each night, several hundred soldiers were on alert ready to roll into the city in 30 minutes.

President Trump ordered them to D.C. just hours before he walked across Lafayette Park, using the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs as a prop. It was mortifying for the American military — and unnecessary since the protests were no longer violent. 

"Those conditions are not here in Washington, D.C.," McConville said. "That's why you are going home."

When they get there, he said, the most important thing they can do is think about what is happening to the country. 

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.