The four-star general who heads the National Guard is reportedly pushing back on the Pentagon’s decision to keep 2,280 National Guard troops at the U.S. Capitol.
Fox News, citing a memo it had obtained, reported that Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, laid out his assessment that the Guard cannot and should not fulfill the Capitol Police's troop request for the deployment.
In the memo, which circulated within the White House National Security Council over the past week, Hokanson argues the National Guard is already stretched too thin, citing coronavirus constraints, civil disturbances, and wildfires.
"I am concerned that the continued indefinite nature of this requirement may also impede our ability to man future missions as both adjutants general and guardsmen alike may be skeptical about committing to future endeavors," Hokanson wrote, Fox News reported.
"Efforts to date have not secured enough volunteers among supporting states to meet the USCP request of 2,280 soldiers, nor Option B of 1000 soldiers," Hokanson said.
But Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin overruled Hokanson on Tuesday, Fox News reported.
“Yes, the Department of Defense will be funding this as we've funded the previous mission, which ends at the end of the week," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told Fox News. "But that's not how anybody's looking at this or foisting that on the Capitol Police, that they're looking at this as free labor."
"They have a legitimate need," he continued. "I'm not going to speak to specific threat. And as I've been trying to say over the last few days, it's not just about the threat environment in a highly polarized, hypercharged environment that we're in right now. It is very much about a capacity assistance to the Capitol Police as they begin to flesh out and develop what they're going to need long term to deal with a new reality on Capitol Hill."
According to a McClatchy report, the Department of Defense is considering issuing involuntary activation orders to keep National Guard troops stationed at the U.S. Capitol.
The deliberation follows Austin’s announcement that he’d be extending the National Guard's time stationed at the U.S. Capitol until May following a request from Capitol Police.
Military officials have said the cost of deploying about 26,000 Guard troops to the U.S. Capitol from shortly after the Jan. 6 attack to Friday is close to $500 million.
No cost estimate for the next two months has been released. The costs include housing, transportation, salaries, benefits, and other essentials.
The Guard's presence at the Capitol has been troubled from the start.
Guard members were briefly forced to take rest breaks and meals in a nearby cold garage — and members complained of bad food, including some who said they became sick.
To ease those tensions, Hokanson has been visiting the troops several times a week and eating with them to ensure that they were getting good food.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.