Engulfed by a cacophony of accusations and blame-assigning over the deadly Jan. 6 security situation at the Capitol building and the response to the mob who breached it, the Defense Department is examining its own role in offering National Guard support to federal law enforcement.
Along with the Justice, Interior and Homeland Security departments, DoD has opened an internal review of its role in preparing for the Jan. 6 protest-turned-insurrection, and how it responded in the immediate aftermath.
The goal is “to determine whether there are additional actions required by the DoD to effectively prepare for and respond to security activities at the U.S. Capitol campus,” according to a memo signed Friday by DoD’s deputy inspector general for administrative investigations.
DoD began taking heat for its role almost immediately after rioters started pushing through police barricades and smashing windows on Jan. 6. First, there were accusations that officials had declined to send National Guard troops to the Capitol, and then, questions as to why the troops doing traffic control in downtown D.C. weren’t able to charge several blocks south to help.
In an attempt to push back, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and other officials spent days participating in press availabilities, issuing statements and even releasing a timeline of events from Jan. 6, to show not only that they did not decline to help, but that the steps to send help were numerous.
Washington, D.C.’s complex status as a federal district means that not only do troops have to be separately requested by the mayor or federal agencies, depending on the location, but also that there is no governor to activate them, so requests have to be routed through the Army and then the defense secretary.
McCarthy told reporters Jan. 7 that while he had already set up a plan with D.C.’s Metropolitan Police, at the request of Mayor Muriel Bowser, the Capitol Police had declined National Guard presence ahead of the protest.
Since resigning his position, former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund has placed blame with the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms ― both of whom have also resigned ― for not requesting back-up.
Though the DoD IG will focus on details of the details of the planning ahead of and response to the Jan. 6 attack, “the DoD OIG may revise or expand the objective and scope as the review proceeds,” according to the memo.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.