The National Guard’s chief recommended against extending the deployment of personnel in the U.S. Capitol, arguing the military reserve force didn’t have enough volunteers and faced pressing needs within their states, according to a newly published memorandum.
Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the Guard chief, wrote in the memo that officials hadn’t been successful in securing enough volunteers to meet the U.S. Capitol Police’s request for over 2,200 soldiers to remain in Washington. Only 500 had volunteered, he wrote.
States deployed tens of thousands of Guardsmen to the Capitol in the wake of the Jan. 6 breach, reaching a peak of some 26,000 on inauguration day. The number has steadily declined since then, but thousands continue guarding the Capitol, which also remains behind razor-topped wire.
Hokanson noted that states are experienced unprecedented demand for Guard support because of the COVID-19 pandemic, riots, and weather events, along with the typical deployment requirement overseas.
“Additionally, faced with pressing needs within their states, numerous Adjutants General and Governors have expressed their unwillingness to order the involuntary mobilization of NG personnel to man the mission,” he said.
“Moreover, 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,” he added, recommending the pursuit of “other inter-agency law enforcement options.”
The memo was obtained and published by Fox News. It appeared to be from last week.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on March 9 overruled the concerns, signing off on the Capitol Police’s request for continued Guard deployment. Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman, who made the request, told lawmakers earlier this month that threats to the Capitol, the surrounding area, and members of Congress are increasing.
Maj. Matt Murphy of the National Guard told The Epoch Times via email on Friday: “We cannot discuss internal deliberations that may have taken place as part of the Department of Defense decision-making process. The National Guard will carry out this mission with professionalism for as long as we are required and approved to support.”
Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell of the Department of Defense (DoD) told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement, “Beyond saying that it’s important for leadership to have open and frank discussions prior to making decisions, DoD doesn’t comment publicly on internal conversations and pre-decisional documents and memos.
John Kirby, the department’s press secretary, told reporters on Thursday that Lloyd “doesn’t want our National Guard troops up on Capitol Hill one day longer than they need to be.”
“I don’t think anybody wants to see this become an enduring mission. And by enduring I mean a forever mission. At the same time, he recognizes that there is a legitimate need for them,” he added, calling the Capitol Police’s request “valid.”
Pressed on whether Guardsmen would be forced to serve if enough volunteers weren’t found, Kirby said, “I think the decision for the involuntary activation makes sense on a couple of different levels, and that gets us to May.”