President Donald Trump on Thursday told troops deploying to the border they could shoot migrants who might throw rocks at them.
[Editors note: President Trump appeared to walk back his remarks about rules of engagement on Friday.]
But what troops will actually be able to do — or should do — is tightly governed.
Experts on domestic military deployments said the president’s words would not offer protection to forces in the case that troops fire upon a migrant and cautioned that troops must know and follow the rules of engagement specific to this unique deployment.
“My understanding is that the president’s comments are irrelevant in a legal judgment about whether using lethal force was appropriate. There is a right to self-defense but there is a high bar against taking action against just rockthrowing,” said Center for Strategic and International Studies senior adviser Mark Cancian.
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Army Gen. Martin Dempsey also took a hard and unusually public position on the rocks comments, saying forces won’t respond so disproportionately.
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