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The commander of the D.C. National Guard said the Pentagon restricted his authority ahead of the riot at the U.S. Capitol, requiring higher level sign-off to respond that cost time as the events that day spiraled out of control.


The military, which isn’t structured to be a first responder like law enforcement, took hours to arrive at the scene primarily because the Capitol Police and the District government hadn’t asked the D.C. Guard to prepare a contingency force for a riot. The Capitol Police chief also didn’t call Walker to tell him a request for Guard backup was imminent until about 25 minutes before rioters breached the Capitol.

But the restrictions the Pentagon placed on Walker also contributed to the delay. He needed to wait for approval from McCarthy and acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller before dispatching troops, even though some 40 National Guard members were on standby as a quick reaction force.


Pentagon officials were also concerned that sending National Guard troops who answered to the president into the Capitol during the riot could give the impression that the military was aiding Trump’s supporters in a coup. Senior defense officials said federal law enforcement should always be in the lead clearing buildings, rather than guardsmen, who shouldn’t be the tip of the spear on U.S. soil.
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