An urgent briefing between a member of the House Armed Services Committee and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy has revealed new details about the tense timeline of sending National Guard troops to the scene of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol siege, and steps taken in the aftermath.
Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., joined another veteran on the committee, Arizona Democrat Ruben Gallego, in calling for the briefing with McCarthy. National Guard troops from Washington, D.C.; Maryland; and Virginia took hours to get their deployment orders, prompting questions and criticism about the response.
Crow, a former Army Ranger, found himself forced to take cover with lawmakers when the pro-Trump mob overwhelmed security. By his own accounts, he instructed other members of Congress to remove their pins so they couldn't be identified, and secured a pen in his pocket, thinking he might need to use it as a weapon.
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"I haven't felt that way in over 15 years, since I was a Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan," Crow said in an interview on CNN's "New Day."
On Sunday afternoon, he released a readout of his call with McCarthy from earlier that day, detailing what took place at the Defense Department during the siege and how the Guard is now planning for President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.
McCarthy told Crow that at least 25 domestic terrorism cases had been opened following the Capitol assaults, according to the readout, and that weapons including long guns, explosive devices and Molotov Cocktails were recovered, "which suggests a greater disaster was narrowly averted."
"[McCarthy] indicated that DoD is aware of further possible threats posed by would-be terrorists in the days up to and including Inauguration Day and is working with local and federal law enforcement to coordinate security preparations," the readout states.
While Crow's report says the two did discuss operational deployments and planning for security around the inauguration, he did not release specifics, citing security reasons.
Crow asked McCarthy that military members involved in the riot -- some military veterans have already been identified as participants -- receive fast-tracked investigation and courts-martial. He also made an unusual request: that the Army's Criminal Investigation Command review National Guard troops who are deployed for the inauguration "to ensure that deployed members are not sympathetic to domestic terrorists."
"Secretary McCarthy agreed to take additional measures," the readout states.
McCarthy added that he's willing to testify publicly about events and preparations if permitted by top brass.
Prior to demonstrations and the Capitol break-in, just 340 D.C. National Guard troops had been approved for "traffic control," according to the readout, and Capitol Police had not requested reinforcements from the Defense Department as they prepared for a rally expected to number in the low thousands.
As the Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" rally turned, for some, into an effort to storm the Capitol and disrupt the ceremonial tallying of electoral votes, McCarthy said the Defense Department "realized there were a far greater number of participants than in previous gatherings," according to the readout.
In calls with McCarthy and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley that took place minutes before 2 p.m., Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser and U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund requested urgent, but non-specific, support, according to the readout.
It took an hour and 10 minutes for McCarthy, Milley, Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller and National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Daniel Hokanson to process and concur on the "unfolding situation at the Capitol" and approve deployment of Guard assets, including the full mobilization of the D.C. National Guard.
"Due to a lack of coordination and preparation, there was not a functioning operations center in the Pentagon to manage the Guard presence and direct additional resources, leaving senior DoD officials to manage the situation by tracking down previously unknown contacts of local law enforcement and making ad hoc calls in an office environment," the readout states.
Crow cited his appreciation for McCarthy's candor, and said he would continue work to review command authority for the D.C. Guard "to ensure that it is responsive to the needs of its constituents and integrated with local law enforcement like every other Guard unit in the nation."
-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.
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