National Guard soldiers who were deployed to secure the U.S. Capitol were forced to sleep in parking garages following an alleged order from the Capitol Police.
A series of miscommunications around an unprecedented security situation left National Guard troops searching for an adequate rest area Thursday night when they were moved from the Capitol into a nearby parking garage.
Guard members ended up having to spend several hours Thursday night resting on the concrete in the parking garage before the mistake was fixed and they were moved back to the Capitol.
The exact chain of events that led to the Guard members moving to the garage is unclear, and by Friday afternoon a series of conflicting explanations and finger pointing only added to the confusion about why the troops were given the impression they were no longer welcome in the Capitol even as their job of protecting it is ongoing.
The resulting confusion and finger-pointing was impressive even for Washington. The National Guard was quick to blame Capitol Police as the authority that directed their troops to vacate the premises Thursday night, but Capitol Police immediately and forcefully denied any involvement. By Friday afternoon, the two units had put out a joint statement seeking to resolve the conflict, but that missive still left unanswered the question of who gave the initial order to move.
According to one source with the Administrative Office of the Courts, an agency that occupies the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary building where the garage is located, it was the National Guard that decided to use the parking garage after being shown the facility on January 19.
According to a source in the Senate Rules Committee, plans were made to move the resting locations for Guard troops out of the Capitol during the heightened security days around the Inauguration. The committee set up alternative accommodations for the troops to move into office buildings during that time frame with the expectation that they would be able to return on Thursday.
In the days immediately following the January 6 attack, there was a scramble to find hotel rooms for the influx of National Guard members pouring into Washington. A state official acknowledged at the time that “suddenly finding hotel rooms for 6,000+ guard members in the middle of a pandemic is a monumental task” but that DC quickly provided lodging.
While every National Guard member currently in Washington has a hotel room and a bed to sleep in, that does not minimize the issue that arose last night, the source said.
One issue currently being discussed is the fact that Guard members are currently working on 12-hour shifts with short rest periods in between. This means that it does not make sense for them to drive back to their hotel rooms, the source said, noting that lawmakers are currently discussing the possibility of shortening those rotations to eight-hour shifts in order to allow the Guard members more time to return to their hotels.
We have to do better wit taking care of our people. The National Guard Bureau is reportedly working to send the inactive troops back home.