Abuse and Misuse of the National Guard

 

I’ve concluded the use of the National Guard to occupy Washington DC for the inaugural ceremonies was an abuse of military power, and ought to be condemned. The fact that dozens of state governors (link) agreed to this abuse is all the more concerning.

Responding to and quelling riots are the responsibility of civilian law enforcement. In those situations where civilian law enforcement is overwhelmed, available military units may provide the necessary strength to restore order. Usually such military units are from the National Guard, the reserve component auxiliaries of the Regular US Army. In extreme cases, active duty Regular Army troops may also be employed to restore civil order.

To provide some context, 1992’s Los Angeles riots required the deployment of the 40th Infantry Division (California Army National Guard) and the 7th Infantry Division (US Army). The rioting had gone on unabated for about 24 hours before the first effective response by National Guard units, and it took three days to quell the initial violence. In the end, it required 17 days to restore order to the city. (Most of the “heavy-lifting” of conducting foot patrol through the neighborhoods and responding to attempts to fan the flames of mob violence was done by the Guardsmen, although it was certainly appreciated when the active-duty troops arrived after the first week.) The total number of troops deployed to L.A. over those seventeen days: 13,500.

Regardless of how one characterizes the rioting that occurred on January 6, the available evidence to suggest that it was the leading indicator of an actual insurrection, much less the start of an existing organized insurgency, is laughably thin. It was a mob, a mob that grew out of control as mobs are wont to do, and became a riot. There has been ample evidence of this pattern across the United States since last May, and has continued in some cities as recently as this week (Jan. 21, 2021). Given this, what makes the use of the National Guard since January 6 an abuse of power?

First – the riot was over that night. If there had been any deliberate, coherent objective in the minds of the rioters towards a given end, (doubtful) it failed. Rightly and justly so. Keeping the Washington D.C. National Guard mobilized beyond that point was a misuse of the military at the expense of civilian law enforcement.

Second – Setting aside the question of whether or not there ought to exist a “Washington D.C. National Guard”, the District of Columbia is purposefully and constitutionally NOT a state, and is meant to exist as a Federally-administered legal entity. Therefore, if military force is required to restore order in the event of rioting (because ALL of the existing Federal agencies with law enforcement capabilities have been exhausted) that military ought to be Regular Army. Why weren’t the troops stationed at Fort Myer (the 3rd Infantry Regiment) fully deployed before any National Guard units were mobilized?

Finally – The National Guard exists under the romantic fiction that it is a militia, and in the same way that they are the modern expression of the traditional American “Citizen-Soldier”. Perhaps there is a kernel of truth to this idea…but only a kernel. The unpleasant reality is that the National Guard is a nearly wholly-owned auxiliary of the Regular Army. Most states’ National Guard formations are between 90% and 95% directly funded by the US Army (i.e., the Department of Defense.) The original intent of encouraging and maintaining strong state militias after the Revolution purposefully was to provide a hedge against a large standing army of Regulars, a counterweight to the temptation by the Federal government to use the Army for tyranny.

To revisit the events of the past two weeks: one night of rioting on January 6th resulted in the deployment of over 25,000 National Guard troops from all over the United States (equal in size to two and a half Divisions of soldiers) for a span of 14 days to maintain an occupation of Washington DC. During that two-week period, not one single incident occurred anywhere in the country to justify the hysteria and moral panic entertained by the ruling elite. What possible excuse can be offered to justify such a blatant abuse of the military? What is worse is that the senior leadership of the US Army – the general officers who are ostensibly bound by their oaths of office to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States – have complied with, aided, and abetted this travesty.

Every state governor who approved of, and authorized the use of their respective state’s National Guard units should be called to account for their foolish decision. It would likely be revealed that they never really even questioned why their state’s National Guard was being called to active duty for domestic law enforcement operations outside their own sovereign state. In hindsight, it appears to be the case that the state governors are used to “dancing” to whatever tune “the piper” who pays the bills is playing.

If this is so – that the National Guard has been “Federalized” to the extent that it is nothing more than an auxiliary of the Regular Army – then average Americans ought to be very, very worried about how such troops will be used in the future.

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  1. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    The purpose was to show that they have the force and the willingness to use it.  The Military is no longer an American thing.  It is a Democrat enforcement arm like the Klan, Teamsters, teachers unions, BLM and AntiFa before it.  

    • #1
  2. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    The purpose was to show that they have the force and the willingness to use it. The Military is no longer an American thing. It is a Democrat enforcement arm like the Klan, Teamsters, teachers unions, BLM and AntiFa before it.

    This might well be the case. If so, is this situation different from the Crown’s use of the British Army in the years leading up to the American Revolution?

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Excellent post, PH. What you say makes a lot of sense, and we all should be greatly concerned about the way the Guard was used.  Thanks.

    • #3
  4. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    I’ll cut the governors some slack this time.  I am sure that the vague threat intelligence sounded credible after the Qanon Capital Panty Raid.  However, there should have been press conferences after a few days explaining the threats and the arrests that had been made.   Yet, they have nothing.  It was a scamriot from the people that brought us the scandemic.   It was good that some Congressman was more worried about a maskless soldier at a donut shop than insurgents and complained.  That unraveled the whole scam.

    • #4
  5. Captain French Moderator
    Captain French
    @AlFrench

    I would like to know whose decision it was to call up the Guard. Who issued the order? Who put LGEN Walker in charge? Trump was ostensibly in charge, but it doesn’t seem like something he would do?Was it someone acting on his behalf, or a faceless bureaucrat, and Trump acquiesced?

    And since Wednesday, who is running things?

    • #5
  6. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Postmodern Hoplite: I’ve concluded the use of the National Guard to occupy Washington D.C. for the inaugural ceremonies was an abuse of military power, and ought to be condemned. The fact that dozens of state governors (link) agreed to this abuse is all the more concerning.

    Interesting point.  DC isn’t a state, so do they have their own National Guard?  If not, what states supplied theirs?

    • #6
  7. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Somebody needs to call this out as Operation Photo Op. 

    • #7
  8. Mim526 Member
    Mim526
    @Mim526

    Agree they should not have been called up to start with.  Once they were, two things made me very angry:  vetting Guard to identify who voted for Trump (dangerous to Biden), and booting thousands of Guard out of capitol bldg area to rest on ground in a parking garage with almost no facilities (reportedly, New Hampshire and Florida recalled their Guard after this).

    After the vetting indignity, no wonder many of them turned their backs on Biden’s motorcade.

    • #8
  9. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    Stad (View Comment):

    Postmodern Hoplite: I’ve concluded the use of the National Guard to occupy Washington D.C. for the inaugural ceremonies was an abuse of military power, and ought to be condemned. The fact that dozens of state governors (link) agreed to this abuse is all the more concerning.

    Interesting point. DC isn’t a state, so do they have their own National Guard? If not, what states supplied theirs?

    Yes, indeed. D.C. has its own ARNG unit (which is an artillery rocket unit, as I recall). However, units from Pennsylvania, Tennessee, South Carolina and many others sent troops.

    • #9
  10. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Captain French (View Comment):

    I would like to know whose decision it was to call up the Guard. Who issued the order? Who put LGEN Walker in charge? Trump was ostensibly in charge, but it doesn’t seem like something he would do? Was it someone acting on his behalf, or a faceless bureaucrat, and Trump acquiesced?

    And since Wednesday, who is running things?

    These are the questions even conservative media don’t seem to be asking. Maybe I’m just unusually ignorant of procedures, but for me its one of the elephants in the room.

    • #10
  11. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Texas sent some. Governor Abbott said he will in the future resist calls for National Guard troops because he is furious over the Biden administration questioning of the troops’ loyalty to their oaths, and the abysmal treatment D.C. gave the troops. 

    • #11
  12. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Understand that 30000 national guardsmen went to DC with the stated intention/understanding that they were to lockup or kill anybody that resisted or protested Biden’s Presidency.  The new administration’s first official actions were to coordinate this process.  When Trump got sworn in the Left lost its mind, howled at the moon and burned down stuff, marched with purple hats, which is what we are told Democracy looks like.  Biden get sworn in and it is roll tanks and protests are illegal.  That is what his Democracy looks like.

    Biden is just getting started.  Expect the worse.

    • #12
  13. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Postmodern Hoplite: I’ve concluded the use of the National Guard to occupy Washington D.C. for the inaugural ceremonies was an abuse of military power, and ought to be condemned. The fact that dozens of state governors (link) agreed to this abuse is all the more concerning.

    Interesting point. DC isn’t a state, so do they have their own National Guard? If not, what states supplied theirs?

    Yes, indeed. D.C. has its own ARNG unit (which is an artillery rocket unit, as I recall). However, units from Pennsylvania, Tennessee, South Carolina and many others sent troops.

    I heard Abbot and DeSantis called their units back once they found out their guardsmen were sleeping on garage floors . . .

    • #13
  14. Jules PA Member
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    And cue corona virus hot spots to all the places the NG returns???

    Or unveiling a different c21?

    • #14
  15. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    This isn’t the first time troops have been called to Washington.  The election of 1800, which resulted in an electoral college tie was a bitter one, and particularly dangerous to the constitution because it was only 12 years old.  Unfortunately, I’m unable to find this in a quick search, but I remember reading that many states sent militias to ensure that the process was preserved as the House of Representatives took up the matter.  There were concerns about a coup.

    Of course there was the War of 1812 and the Civil War, but another incident that’s mostly forgotten today was the so called Bonus Army in 1932, where demonstrators consisting mostly of World War I veterans wanted their bonus now.  The U.S. Army was called in to quell the demonstrators.  As an aside, the “Bonus Marches” affected how Congress provided for World War II veterans, and instead of a bonus payable many years after that war, they established educational subsidies instead, known as the G.I. Bill.

    The Bonus Army response did utilize the regular Army and not National Guard units, and is generally considered a political disaster that contributed to Herbert Hoover’s loss to Franklin Roosevelt later that year.  And it’s probably why the political class decided on National Guard units this time around.  If memory serves, I think National Guard units were also used to quell demonstrations in Washington D.C. during the 1970’s.

     

    • #15
  16. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Generally agreed.

    The claimed reason for summoning National Guard (let alone 25,000 National Guard) was that intelligence agencies had warning of a further threat around the inauguration. Presumably, that threat was of greater significance than the January 6th “riot” that apparently involved only a few dozen people.

    An extraordinary military presence and fortifications around the centers of government merit extraordinary transparency about that supposed threat. Every politician in DC and every governor has a duty to demand a public explanation to citizens of why our country’s capitol looked like wartime fortress during a peaceful transition of power.

    The vetting of National Guard certainly did not focus of appreciation of Trump. Most soldiers vote Republican and few were dismissed. More likely, those were dismissed for public political advocacy. But, again, extraordinary measures merit extraordinary transparency. What facts supported fears of a coup by military assistance?

    Governors like Abbott probably trusted the claims of the FBI and company without demanding access to that intelligence. After what seems to have been political theater, they should know better now than to take anything on faith.

    • #16
  17. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    The OP brings up an interesting point regarding the funding of National Guard units across the states and territories (by the way, I noticed, during a visit to Puerto Rico that they too have a National Guard formed on the same model as the other states with the same allegiances).

    He’s right that the idea of the National Guard as a state militia has become a romantic fiction, though members are reminded right away, when they join, that they do serve the governor of the state and the oaths they take do reflect that (they swear allegiance to both their state constitutions and the federal constitution).

    Yet, Guardsmen (especially Air Guardsmen) can be expected to be called to federal service quite a few times during a career, even if it is for training.  And significantly, their initial basic training (boot camp) is run by the U.S. Army or Air Force depending.

    Yet I’m inclined to put this in perspective.  I consider the circumstances we find all these national guards to be a symptom of a larger problem where U.S. citizens pay most of their taxes to the federal government.  I mentioned the Bonus Army marches.

    In 1932, the typical taxpayer paid most of their taxes to state and local governments.  I suspect that during that time, the way those national guards were funded reflected that.

    Basically, the states are funded by the federal government anyway in direct and indirect ways, because first there is no room for states to increase their taxes because the feds take so much, and second, state legislators and governors rather like it that way because they don’t have to take the heat for raising their taxes to fully pay for their government.

    If you solve that problem, the national guard problem with respect to the federal government will also solve itself.

    • #17
  18. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Al Sparks (View Comment):
    If memory serves, I think National Guard units were also used to quell demonstrations in Washington D.C. during the 1970’s.

    Nope. Regular Army. My old boss went from Fort Knox to the 6th Cav at Ft. Meade, where he spent 6 months on riot control duty in DC.

    ”I was kinda glad when I got orders for Vietnam.”

     

    • #18
  19. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    This isn’t the first time troops have been called to Washington. The election of 1800, which resulted in an electoral college tie was a bitter one, and particularly dangerous to the constitution because it was only 12 years old. Unfortunately, I’m unable to find this in a quick search, but I remember reading that many states sent militias to ensure that the process was preserved as the House of Representatives took up the matter. There were concerns about a coup.

    Of course there was the War of 1812 and the Civil War, but another incident that’s mostly forgotten today was the so called Bonus Army in 1932, where demonstrators consisting mostly of World War I veterans wanted their bonus now. The U.S. Army was called in to quell the demonstrators. As an aside, the “Bonus Marches” affected how Congress provided for World War II veterans, and instead of a bonus payable many years after that war, they established educational subsidies instead, known as the G.I. Bill.

    The Bonus Army response did utilize the regular Army and not National Guard units, and is generally considered a political disaster that contributed to Herbert Hoover’s loss to Franklin Roosevelt later that year. And it’s probably why the political class decided on National Guard units this time around. If memory serves, I think National Guard units were also used to quell demonstrations in Washington D.C. during the 1970’s.

     

    @alsparks you are quite correct, this occasion was by no means unique (National Guard used to quell civil disturbance in Washington D.C.) My point is that the scope and scale of the mobilization was far in excess of what was necessary to address the threat, and that the decision to use reserve components at this level rather than active duty was made by the Regular Army senior leadership, not the state governors.

    • #19
  20. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    An extraordinary military presence and fortifications around the centers of government merit extraordinary transparency about that supposed threat. Every politician in DC and every governor has a duty to demand a public explanation to citizens of why our country’s capitol looked like wartime fortress during a peaceful transition of power. 

    @aaronmiller – yes, indeed. Sadly, the current senior leadership of the FBI has undeniably shown that it is not to be unquestionably trusted to be nonpartisan. The events of 2016 and 2017 raised serious doubts in the minds of many, me included.

    • #20
  21. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Postmodern Hoplite: Every state governor who approved of, and authorized the use of their respective state’s National Guard units should be called to account for their foolish decision. It would likely be revealed that they never really even questioned why their state’s National Guard was being called to active duty for domestic law enforcement operations outside their own sovereign state. In hindsight, it appears to be the case that the state governors are used to “dancing” to whatever tune “the piper” who pays the bills is playing.

    Bill Clinton, governor of Arkansas, refused to allow elements of  the Arkansas National Guard to deploy for training in Honduras. 

    • #21
  22. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    I was wrong about one thing. By law, the command of the DC Guard is vested in the President, but is delegated through the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army to the general commanding the Military District of Washington. Though obviously mobilizing the DC Guard isn’t as easy as calling out the 3D Infantry.

    • #22
  23. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    I was wrong about one thing. By law, the command of the DC Guard is vested in the President, but is delegated through the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army to the general commanding the Military District of Washington. Though obviously mobilizing the DC Guard isn’t as easy as calling out the 3D Infantry.

    @stevec, as I mentioned above, the question of whether or not the D.C. even ought to have a National Guard unit is a separate question. That the chain of command starts with the President, and runs through SECDEF to SECARMY to CGMDW, means there is NO link in the chain that separates it from Federal (i.e. Regular Army) control. It’s not a militia in any constitutional sense.

    • #23
  24. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    I was wrong about one thing. By law, the command of the DC Guard is vested in the President, but is delegated through the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army to the general commanding the Military District of Washington. Though obviously mobilizing the DC Guard isn’t as easy as calling out the 3D Infantry.

    @stevec, as I mentioned above, the question of whether or not the D.C. even ought to have a National Guard unit is a separate question. That the chain of command starts with the President, and runs through SECDEF to SECARMY to CGMDW, means there is NO link in the chain that separates it from Federal (i.e. Regular Army) control. It’s not a militia in any constitutional sense.

    None are in the sense that a militia is state organized and state funded. 

    • #24
  25. Jules PA Member
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    The claimed reason for summoning National Guard (let alone 25,000 National Guard) was that intelligence agencies had warning of a further threat around the inauguration.

    Speaking of fabulists who should not be hired…

    • #25
  26. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Postmodern Hoplite: To revisit the events of the past two weeks: one night of rioting on January 6th resulted in the deployment of over 25,000 National Guard troops from all over the United States (equal in size to two and a half Divisions of soldiers) for a span of 14 days to maintain an occupation of Washington DC. During that two-week period, not one single incident occurred anywhere in the country to justify the hysteria and moral panic entertained by the ruling elite. What possible excuse can be offered to justify such a blatant abuse of the military? What is worse is that the senior leadership of the US Army – the general officers who are ostensibly bound by their oaths of office to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States – have complied with, aided, and abetted this travesty.

    Well as unpopular as the first item’s of the Biden administration are (Keystone pipeline – union jobs; No drilling on federal lands – at odds with Indian Tribes; Transgender’s in Girls sports)

    Perhaps they are emplacing the troops to forestall even more unpopular things to come. They aren’t scheduled to leave until March after all.

    • #26
  27. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    The annual March For Life has been relegated to a virtual conference this year. It sounds like they were scared off, in part, by the military presence. 

    • #27
  28. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    The annual March For Life has been relegated to a virtual conference this year. It sounds like they were scared off, in part, by the military presence.

    They have reason to be.  The National Guard are trained killers there for a purpose.  They have now been vetted and anybody not loyal to Democrats removed.  The ARE NOT there for AntiFa, BLM, or any Leftwing cause.  They are because somebody on the Right might protest and the Left will no longer tolerate it so it brought a group in to stop it with force of arms.  I would not be surprised if they become a permanent feature of Democrat rule.

    • #28
  29. Mim526 Member
    Mim526
    @Mim526

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    The annual March For Life has been relegated to a virtual conference this year. It sounds like they were scared off, in part, by the military presence.

    They have reason to be. The National Guard are trained killers there for a purpose. They have now been vetted and anybody not loyal to Democrats removed. The ARE NOT there for AntiFa, BLM, or any Leftwing cause. They are because somebody on the Right might protest and the Left will no longer tolerate it so it brought a group in to stop it with force of arms. I would not be surprised if they become a permanent feature of Democrat rule.

    While I agree with this assessment of Democratic purpose, it’s also obvious to me that not all Guardsmen agree with either why they are there or how they have been treated while there.  We have martial law in our nation’s capitol, and I do not think it only voters the Democrats fear.

    • #29
  30. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Mim526 (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    The annual March For Life has been relegated to a virtual conference this year. It sounds like they were scared off, in part, by the military presence.

    They have reason to be. The National Guard are trained killers there for a purpose. They have now been vetted and anybody not loyal to Democrats removed. The ARE NOT there for AntiFa, BLM, or any Leftwing cause. They are because somebody on the Right might protest and the Left will no longer tolerate it so it brought a group in to stop it with force of arms. I would not be surprised if they become a permanent feature of Democrat rule.

    While I agree with this assessment of Democratic purpose, it’s also obvious to me that not all Guardsmen agree with either why they are there or how they have been treated while there. We have martial law in our nation’s capitol, and I do not think it only voters the Democrats fear.

    At this point I expect there are guardsmen that have issues with this.  Over time they will be transferred to other units, units that will be disbanded, isolated or burned in combat until they get their pure Democrat military.

    • #30