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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.Published in