Donald McGregor, Major General U.S Air Force, Ret., is a Senior Advisor with the Center for American Defense Studies (CADS). He was also a former lead advisor to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, who is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General McGregor has been a vocal critic of the misuse of the National Guard for the Biden Inauguration, and the current moves to use the Guard as a reaction force for Capitol security.
Earlier McGregor published a report for CADS titled ‘Militarized Inauguration Security and National Guard.’ Below is his most recent piece on this important subject from RealClear Defense, reprinted by ADN in two parts, with the author’s permission.
A recent article in the Military Times, “Creating a D.C. National Guard quick-reaction force is a bad idea,” provides some prudent resistance to the recent push by the U.S. House of Representatives to establish and fund a National Guard quick-reaction force (QRF). However, the argument falls short about what drives sound military planning—that is, what is the requirement and, more importantly, what is the threat driving it?
Without understanding these two issues, filling the requirement becomes whatever you suppose it to be, and produces unnecessary recommendations, pointless debate and, worse, wasteful taxpayer expenditures.
In May 2021, the House of Representatives unveiled a $1.9 billion supplemental appropriations bill to address security shortfalls highlighted in the Jan 6th U.S. Capitol riots. The bill would provide $200 million to establish a “quick reaction force” staffed by the National Guard. A recommendation from a non-partisan Task Force, directed by the Speaker of the House, to “identify actions or decisions…to improve the security of the Capitol.”
The breach of the Capitol is reason enough to review security shortfalls, as intelligence failed to identify possible antagonists before the event occurred and significant coordination and response missteps. However, the task force report added other recommendations for military forces post-Jan 6th, which appear to go well beyond the events of the day and suggest that a continued “domestic extremist threat” exists in the Capitol. This finding appears to be more supposition than fact.
The “Domestic Extremist” Dilemma
Nearly five months after the Capitol riots, there has been no legitimate threat assessment to warrant continued military forces in the Capitol. Even the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) recent threat bulletin, most likely a key driver in arguing for the QRF, uses vague, nondescript language about “domestic extremist” threats, such as “may seek,” “likely,” or “with the intent” to describe potential (not actual) “violence against elected officials, political representatives, government facilities, and law enforcement.”
The DHS bulletin further obscures any rationalization for maintaining a military presence at the Capitol by offering no data or facts about possible attacks or thwarted “domestic extremist” plans. In fact, the only attack on Capitol police following the Jan 6th riot came from a left-wing Nation of Islam extremist who ran his vehicle into several Capitol police, killing one officer and injuring another.
Further, of the 465 currently arrested for breaching the Capitol on Jan 6th, none are charged with sedition, insurrection, or terrorism, and many of the conspiracy charges have been successfully challenged since there is little evidence of a “conspiring agreement” with intent to commit a crime.
The vast majority—425 of the 465 arrested—were charged with a minor offense of “entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds.” This hardly supports the domestic extremist argument to warrant a QRF.
PART TWO NEXT
** See the original piece, Congress’s National Guard Quick Reaction Force: An Ill-Advised Military Requirement in RealClear Defense.