Tags: washington post | national guard | army | d.c.

Report: Army Initially Pushed to Deny DC's National Guard Request

Report: Army Initially Pushed to Deny DC's National Guard Request
National Guard soldiers patrol the U.S. Capitol grounds in Washington, D.C., on March 6, 2021. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

By    |   Tuesday, 16 March 2021 02:30 PM

The Army initially pushed back Washington D.C.'s request for a National Guard presence ahead of the Jan. 6 rally that sparked the riot at the Capitol, it was reported Tuesday.

The Washington Post reported it had obtained an internal draft memo in which the Army maintained it shouldn’t be needed to help with crowd and traffic management unless more than 100,000 protesters were predicted.

The memo, noting that resources from other federal agencies had not been exhausted, said law enforcement personnel were "far better suited" to handle the event. The Army had wanted D.C. officials to ask the Justice Department for help.

The Post said the Army had taken the position regarding the National Guard the weekend before the rally. It attributed the information to four people familiar with the discussions.

After facing pressure from then-Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, the Army ultimately relented.

Col. Cathy Wilkinson, a spokeswoman for the Army, told the Post the Pentagon provided 340 members of the D.C. Guard to help with street closures and crowd control as asked.

"Clearly, the mayor's request was approved and supported," Wilkinson said. "The draft memo was not signed or approved. It is customary for the Army staff to provide options for Army senior leaders to inform their decision-making process."

The Post said in the weeks since the riot, Pentagon officials have stressed that the police and federal agencies didn't request help prior to the event.

But the memo indicates Army officials had been disinclined to provide help from the start, the Post said.

It pointed out that the Guard is trained to aid law enforcement personnel during large protests and had actually done so in the past.

The reaction of Pentagon officials before and during the riot is now facing scrutiny. Lawmakers have accused the Defense Department of moving too slowly to the Capitol Police’s plea for military assistance, as rioters breached the facility.

Maj. Gen. William Walker, commander of the D.C. National Guard, said it took more than three hours for senior military leaders to approve a request to send troops to the Capitol during the actual Jan. 6 riots, despite a "frantic" plea from the Capitol Police chief for immediate emergency assistance.

Walker, speaking in a Senate hearing on March 3, said he and then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund were initially told in a call with Army officials that deploying guardsmen to the Capitol wouldn’t be "good optics" and that it could "further incite the crowd."

"The Army senior leaders did not think it looked good" to have uniformed guardsmen in front of the Capitol, Walker said. "They further thought it would incite the crowd."

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US
The Army initially pushed back on Washington D.C.'s request for a National Guard presence ahead of the Jan. 6 rally that sparked the riot at the Capitol, it was reported Tuesday.
washington post, national guard, army, d.c.
451
2021-30-16
Tuesday, 16 March 2021 02:30 PM
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