In light of recent claims that National Guard troops assigned to protect the Capitol were being sent to a basement garage for long-term rest breaks on the concrete floor, several Republican Governors have decided to pull their units from DC. These GOP governors so far include Ron DeSantis of Florida, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Greg Gianforte of Montana, and Greg Abbott of Texas.
They have all announced that they are bringing their National Guard troops back home.
Last night, I ordered our Adjutant General to bring Florida National Guard soldiers home from the National Capital Region.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) January 22, 2021
I have instructed General Norris to order the return of the Texas National Guard to our state. @TexasGuard
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 22, 2021
Fox News reported that the “U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) ordered the troops to move their rest area during their 12-hour shifts from inside the Capitol to the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Center parking garage,” the National Guard said Friday. That move caused bipartisan outrage at the treatment of the servicemembers.
According to Fox News, Senators Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; and Maggie, Hassan, D-N.H., among other senators and numerous House members, also condemned the situation.
In his announcement recalling his state’s National Guard, Governor Sununu, said the soldiers “should be graciously praised, not subject to substandard conditions.”
“The location for troops’ rest breaks was changed back early Friday, with troops now authorized by the U.S. Capitol Police Watch Commander to take their breaks near Emancipation Hall,” reported Fox.
But this most recent housing issue was not the only concern voiced by the governors, noted Fox News. Governors DeSantis and Abbott decried last minute FBI background checks of National Guard troops for so-called “radicalism” ahead of the inauguration.
That controversial extra scrutiny was considered offensive and left a bad taste in the mouths of many Guard and other service members. To enter any branch of the U.S. military and receive a clearance, all personnel undergo background checks.
Questioning their patriotism, loyalty and integrity as they were being asked to protect the Capitol, really did not sit well with many of the troops I spoke to in DC.
And then there was the question of what they are still doing in Washington after the Inaugural. What is the mission now? And are they really needed? Or is it simply political and security theater, as I have noted previously here and here?
DeSantis called the massive troop effort to protect the Capitol a “half-cocked mission at this point.” Governor Gianforte of Montana, also ordered his National Guard home, simply declaring their “mission complete.”