Pentagon Handcuffed National Guard Ahead of Capitol Incursion
In the days leading up to President Donald Trump instructing his followers to storm the United States Capitol on Wednesday, the Pentagon prevented the National Guard from adequately preparing for the attack, which claimed five lives and damaged western democracy’s citadel, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
“The Pentagon placed tight limits on the D.C. National Guard ahead of pro-Trump protests this week, trying to ensure the use of military force remained constrained, as the Guard carried out a narrow, unarmed mission requested by the city’s mayor to help handle traffic ahead of planned protests,” the newspaper reported. “In memos issued Monday and Tuesday in response to a request from the D.C. mayor, the Pentagon prohibited the District’s guardsmen from receiving ammunition or riot gear, interacting with protesters unless necessary for self-defense, sharing equipment with local law enforcement, or using Guard surveillance and air assets without the defense secretary’s explicit sign-off, according to officials familiar with the orders. The limits were established because the Guard hadn’t been asked to assist with crowd or riot control.”
When the pandemonium struck, the Defense Department choked.
“Then the mission abruptly changed — and the Pentagon is now facing criticism from governors and local officials who say it moved too slowly to send National Guard troops to respond, a charge that its leaders denied Thursday,” wrote The Post. “In the roughly three hours it took the Pentagon to make the shift from traffic policing to full-fledged riot response, the Capitol Police found themselves overwhelmed and rioters stormed the building, forcing lawmakers to take cover and barricade themselves in their offices. The Pentagon left it to federal law enforcement to clear the Capitol of the rioters, amid the hesitancy about sending Guard units into the building itself. By the evening, Guard units helped the Capitol Police and federal and city law enforcement reestablish a perimeter around the building.”
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) told The Post that the Capitol Police “made it perfectly clear that they needed extraordinary help, including the National Guard. There was some concern from the Army of what it would look like to have armed military personnel on the grounds of the Capitol.”