The Pentagon has ordered military personnel and their families to avoid the St. Louis, Missouri area due to "ongoing sensitivities" in the city of Ferguson, where a grand jury has reportedly reached a decision in case of Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.
VICE News obtained a Pentagon message Monday that accompanies a military advisory distributed last week. The message says Department of Defense employees and their dependents in the St. Louis area should "exercise a greater degree of situational awareness," and "avoid certain activities." The warning was issued "due to the increased tension" in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
The advisory says the Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Army should "limit all non mission essential military activities within 25 miles of St. Louis [excluding operations in the vicinity of Scott Air Force Base] and along Missouri interstates in proximity of St. Louis until further notice." The notice was also sent to United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM), the National Guard Bureau in Washington, DC and United States Transportation Command (TRANSCOM).
The Joint Chiefs issued the one-page unclassified advisory because the public and the media have mistaken routine military activities with "defense posturing."
"There have been comments recently in the media and social media regarding military equipment transiting the area inaccurately being associated with the governor-directed call-up of National Guardsmen in the area," Lt. Col. Tom Crosson, a Pentagon spokesman, told VICE News. "We felt that it was a prudent effort to minimize confusion between the Missouri National Guard's support to local first responders in the area and military equipment transiting the area."
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to assist police in Ferguson and St. Louis county due to fears of unrest associated with planned protests in the area.
The advisory, which is in effect "until further notice," also instructed military personnel to avoid, "ground military equipment movements, aviation operations, logistics/refueling operations at St. Louis airports, and other military training activities in the vicinity of St. Louis."
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