Report: Defense Secretary ‘Overrode’ National Guard Chief’s Recommendation Not to Extend Occupation of D.C.

Members of the National Guard patrol the National Mall on January 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. Tight security measures are in place for Inauguration Day due to greater security threats after the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson reportedly opposed keeping National Guard troops at the Capitol for another two months but was overridden by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, according to a Thursday report by Fox News’s Gillian Turner.

“The official internal memo that we’ve obtained reveals that the National Guard’s top general disagrees with the Pentagon’s decision to keep those 2,300 National Guard troops here at the Capitol,” Turner said.

Turner also reported the National Guard chief did not believe the Guard was “actually equipped to carry out this mission”:

The National Guard chief is laying out really what’s his whole case in this memo, saying that the Guard is already overstretched, and he doesn’t think that they’re actually equipped to carry out this mission. Now despite this, Defense Secretary General Austin overrode the National Guard’s recommendation and extended the D.C. mission anyway.

The report cited Hokanson’s memo, which reportedly said, “Efforts to date have not secured enough volunteers among supporting states to meet the [U.S. Capitol Police’s] request of 2,280 soldiers, nor Option B of 1,000 soldiers.”

“I am concerned that the continued indefinite nature of this requirement may also impede our ability to man future missions,” the memo continued.

Turner reported the memo circulated within the White House at the National Security Council last week.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Wednesday on Austin’s approval of the extension, “The Secretary feels committed to making sure that, as we fill this requirement — and he believes it’s a valid requirement — that we’re also taking a look and considering and mitigating whatever risks there might be to the National Guard in other areas, in their home states and other functional areas.”

Kirby then assured that proper analysis had been done:

And we believe we did that analysis, he is confident that analysis was done, and that’s why he went ahead and approved this request. As I said yesterday, and I know we always talk about whatever the threat requirement is, and we don’t talk about that in great detail, but was also about helping the Capitol Police in a new environment, right now, as they begin to understand what requirements and capabilities they’re going to need to perfect and improve upon going forward.

When asked what the real threat was, Kirby deflected:

They have a need, they have a legitimate need for some capacity assistance in a time which is fairly uncertain right now. 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, hyper-charged 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,” he said.

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