Suspicious order ignited fears that Air National Guard would use fighter jets against California protesters: report

While preparing for any potential civil unrest as a result of the coronavirus surge in March of last year, California National Guard members heard an unusual order: The air branch of the Guard was told to place an F-15C fighter jet on an alert status for a possible domestic mission, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Four National Guard sources speaking to the Times say that while the order didn't specify a mission, they feared the order meant "the plane could be deployed to terrify and disperse protesters by flying low over them at window-rattling speeds, with its afterburners streaming columns of flames." As the Times points out, the same method was used in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"It would have been a completely illegal order that disgraced the military," one source told the Times. "It could look like we're threatening civilians."

"That's something that would happen in the Soviet Union," said a second of The Times' sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation from their superiors. "Our military is used to combat foreign aggressors."

Another detail making the order highly unusual was that it was passed down, orally or in text messages, not in a written order, according to the sources.

A spokesman for California National Guard Maj. Gen. David Baldwin denied that the F-15C was placed on alert status.

"We do not use our planes to frighten or intimidate civilians," Lt. Col. Jonathan Shiroma told the Times.

Read the full report over at The Los Angeles Times.