The inauguration of President Joe Biden may have gone off without a hitch, but that doesn’t mean that members of the National Guard have enjoyed their strange new deployment to Forward Operating Base Washington D.C.
While photos circulated last week of National Guardsmen catching some well-deserved shut-eye in the halls of the U.S. Capitol building following the Jan. 6 insurrection that took place there, service members have since been booted from the Senate building and forced to take shelter in the congressional garage.
Indeed, photos provided to Task & Purpose show members of the Maryland Army National Guard hunkered down on the concrete floor of a parking garage without additional heating elements.
“There’s one toilet for somewhere between 500 and 1,000 people, there’s no water fountains or anything, no power strips to charge our radios and cell phones, which have been our primary mode of communication since we’ve been here,” one National Guardsman told Task & Purpose on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisal. “It’s pissed a lot of dudes off.”
Nearly 26,000 Guardsmen from around the country flooded into Washington D.C. in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol building to provide additional security ahead of President Biden’s inauguration.
While 12 Guardsman were removed from the security detail due to issues with their FBI background checks, the inauguration itself went off without a single security incident.
Guardsmen had previously found lodging not only in local hotels, but in the Hart, Dirksen, and Russell Senate office buildings, according to the Guard source, with some occupying the tennis courts in the Hart building. It was only on Thursday, following the inauguration, that hundreds of Guardsmen were suddenly expelled from the buildings and told to take shelter in the nearby congressional parking garages.
“We’re actually outside of the fence line security perimeter right now in what’s definitely an unsecured location,” the Guardsman told Task & Purpose. “It’s going to take extra time to walk back and forth to our guard shifts, and I don’t know how it looks to the public, but we’re definitely in the middle of residential neighborhood right now.”
The Guardsman also expressed concern over exhaust fumes in the garage, stating that cars were “coming and going” in close proximity to fellow service members who were racked up in the area.
“It’s fucked up because it just shows how politicians really feel about the National Guard,” he said. “Leaving our families for the last two weeks to come down here … it’s certainly important and historic, but the day after inauguration you kick us literally to the curb? Come on, man.”
The National Guard Bureau did not immediately respond to request for comment.