The National Guard’s response to the Capitol Hill riots: Everything you need to know

What we know so far.

A day after a pro-Trump mob rioted on Capitol Hill, it is still unclear exactly how the National Guard members were mobilized in response to the chaos.

Trying to determine which authorities have the authority to deploy the D.C. National Guard and which officials actually issued the orders to do so is made all the more difficult by the fact that the D.C. National Guard functions differently than its state counterparts.

With all that said, this is what we know so far: Several media outlets are reporting that President Donald Trump was initially hesitant to deploy National Guardsmen to Capitol Hill so Vice President Pence reportedly filled the leadership vacuum by coordinating with the Pentagon. But a defense official who spoke with Task & Purpose noted that Pence is not in the chain of command.

Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller already had the authority to mobilize more National Guardsmen by the time the situation on Capitol Hill became critical, said Miller’s chief of staff Kash Patel.

“The Acting Secretary and the President have spoken multiple times this week about the request for National Guard personnel in DC,” Patel said in a statement. “During these conversations the President conveyed to the Acting Secretary that he should take any necessary steps to support civilian law enforcement requests in securing the Capitol and federal buildings.”

Video: About 340 D.C. National Guardsmen were mobilized before the Capitol Hill riots

Meanwhile, White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany indicated on Wednesday that Trump had authorized the deployment of more National Guardsmen to Washington, D.C.

“At President @realDonaldTrump’s direction, the National Guard is on the way along with other federal protective services,” McEnany tweeted on Wednesday.

More than 340 D.C. National Guardsmen had already been mobilized on Wednesday to help with traffic and crowd support. They were assigned to the bus and train stations and busy intersections elsewhere in the city. Importantly, they were unarmed.

After the rioters stormed Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser requested that the entire D.C. National Guard be mobilized, said Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman. That request was approved.

“Approximately 1,100 D.C. National Guardsmen have been mobilized to support law enforcement officers in various locations in the city to protect property, allowing federal and local law enforcement officers to do law enforcement missions,” said Wayne Hall, a spokesman for the National Guard Bureau.

Since Washington, D.C., is not a state or territory, the city’s National Guard falls under the purview of Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.

On Thursday, McCarthy said that there will be a total of 6,200 National Guardsmen present in the D.C. area by the weekend, including the full D.C. guard, as well as support from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and New York.

McCarthy added that they have already begun setting up a seven-foot, “non-scalable” fence around the Capitol building.

“These personnel and this security measures will be in place for no less than the next 30 days,” he said.

UPDATE: This story was updated on Jan. 7 with comments from Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.

Task & Purpose reporter Haley Britzky contributed to this story.

Feature image: Members of the National Guard stand guard as supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather outside the U.S. Capitol building during a protest against the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021. (REUTERS/Leah Millis)

Jeff Schogol

Jeff Schogolis the senior Pentagon reporter for Task & Purpose. He has covered the military for 15 years. You can email him at schogol@taskandpurpose.com, direct message @JeffSchogol on Twitter, or reach him on WhatsApp and Signal at 703-909-6488. Contact the author here.

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