When elected leaders blow it, National Guard soldiers and airman should not shoulder the blame [Opinion]
The District of Columbia National Guard has been under scrutiny since riots broke out at the nation’s capital.
As the review of the National Guard status begins to unfold, here is what we know: The Guard, at the direction of the Mayor of Washington, D.C. had no weapons, shields, or protective equipment authorized that day.
The mayor and the District of Columbia Chief of Police decided to deploy the National Guard soldiers to direct traffic at intersections. None of the Guard personnel had firearms, ammunition, helmets, face shields, batons, or riot shields that day.
When the Capitol Hill Police Chief asked for National Guard troops up on Capitol Hill a few days before the Trump Rally his request was denied. Let us repeat: His request was denied .
For those Americans who don’t realize it, for the most part, our National Guard soldiers and airmen are primarily part-time military members who have weekday jobs.
When a Governor, or in the case of the District of Columbia, the Mayor needs troops in short order they need to act quickly and decisively to call up soldiers and airmen. When a riot is raging and police are overrun, it’s too late to call for the Guard.
Additionally, that governor or the D.C. Mayor has to authorize members to carry firearms if that is necessary. How many Americans are at risk when Guard members are deployed without firearms and other riot gear? In this case it turned out to be our Vice President, every Senator, Representative, staffer, police officers, and tourists that were on Capitol Hill.
Immediately following the 9-11 terror attacks Guard members were deployed for critical infrastructure protection across the country, including in California. Airports, bridges, power plants, and dams were some of the facilities patrolled and protected by your National Guard in support of local sheriff and police departments.
Soldiers and airmen were sent out, following a terror attack, armed but with no ammunition for pistols or rifles. Let us repeat: No ammunition.
Perhaps the California Governor figured the soldiers or airmen would protect citizens by kicking the attackers.
Later, when word reached the California Legislature that Guard troops were deployed to protect critical infrastructure without ammunition for their weapons, bipartisan support for soldiers and airmen readily surfaced.
However, neither side of the aisle went public with cries for ammunition for its soldiers or airmen. Rather, they quietly worked together to garner support amongst their ranks, approached the Governor’s staff, and within short order our troops had the ammunition they would need to protect the state. The leader of that effort was the Senator from the state’s 37th Senate District.
While properly equipped, Guard soldiers and airmen successfully protected airports, bridges, power plants, and dams. Not a single round was fired and not a single citizen was shot or wounded by members of the California National Guard.
Soldiers and Airman of the National Guard must be properly equipped from the outset of a state or federal mission. The men and women of the National Guard and its ready reserve the State Guard, are citizen soldiers.
Citizen soldiers have successfully answered America’s call since before our nation won its independence. The Guard is our nation’s oldest military branch. The Guard predates the Army and Marines who are our nation’s oldest active duty branches.
Today our Guard members fight fire, respond to floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, pandemics, riots, and support civil authorities. That’s the work they do at home. Let’s remember they have been almost 50 percent of the troops that deployed to the Middle East during our nations longest wars. Many lost life, limb, and were wounded in that war and those that predate it.
From 18 years of age to 60 these patriots work part time. They have jobs and families they must leave behind when called upon by a Governor, the DC Mayor or the President to report and deploy for duty.
When elected leaders blow it — Guard soldiers and airman should not shoulder the blame or have their reputations as individuals or a professional force called into question.
The National Guard is always ready and always there. They just need to be properly equipped when deployed and sent into harm’s way.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Uken Report.
- Mon destroys U.S. Capitol: Shutterstock