Either Incompetent Or Authoritarian: The D.C. National Guard Edition

And I’m not referring to the members of the D.C. National Guard.

This is disturbing (boldface mine):

The U.S. Army general who heads the D.C. National Guard and is an integral part of overseeing the inauguration said Friday he has been ordered removed from command effective Jan. 20, 12:01 p.m., just as Donald Trump is sworn in as president.

Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz’s departure will come in the midst of the presidential ceremony, classified as a national special security event — and while thousands of his troops are deployed to help protect the nation’s capital during an inauguration he has spent months helping to plan.

“The timing is extremely unusual,” Schwartz said in an interview Friday morning, confirming a memo announcing his ouster that was obtained by The Washington Post. During the inauguration, Schwartz would command not only the members of the D.C. guard but also an additional 5,000 unarmed troops sent in from across the country to help. He also would oversee military air support protecting the nation’s capital during the inauguration.

“My troops will be on the street,” Schwartz, who turned 65 in October, said, “I’ll see them off but I won’t be able to welcome them back to the armory.” He said that he would “never plan to leave a mission in the middle of a battle.”

Schwartz, who was appointed to head the guard by President George W. Bush in 2008, maintained the position through President Obama’s two terms. He said his orders came from the Pentagon but that he doesn’t know who made the decision. It is unclear whether he is part of a larger class of federal workers who have been asked to leave their jobs as a new president takes office….

“It doesn’t make sense to can the general in the middle of an active deployment,” [D.C. Council Member] Mendelson said. He added that Schwartz’s sudden departure would be a long-term loss for the District. “He’s been really very good at working with the community and my impression was that he was good for the Guard.”

Unlike in states, where the governor appoints the National Guard commander, in the District that duty falls to the president.

Schwartz said that he has not been told why he was asked to step down.

The best case, and likely, scenario is incompetence: the Trump administration is willing to put visitors, servicemen, and residents of D.C. at risk because they feel they need to clean house immediately. This is what is done after a business merger, and is one more reason why government should not ‘be run like a business.’

The worst case scenario is that a Trump will use a bullshit excuse, such as some chucklehead ‘anarchist’ breaking a store window, to declare a state of emergency and shut down the march planned for the 21st (of course, they could just make something up completely out of whole cloth too).

There is now a slight, non-negligible chance of the latter happening.

This is not normal.

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8 Responses to Either Incompetent Or Authoritarian: The D.C. National Guard Edition

  1. I can definitely see the “state of emergency” situation happening. Already thought of it well over a week ago.

    • theking says:

      Sooner or later our democracy will end under this guy. Either through a World War or domestically. Our only hope will be if the Pentagon refuses to go along.

  2. Caroline says:

    How did this gentleman get his rank…I don’t see his time in the military.

  3. Jill says:

    I’m willing to credit malice as the basis for many of Trump’s actions and pronouncements. However, I’m equally willing to believe that ignorance, incompetence, and sloppiness is the basis for many of his actions and pronouncements.

  4. Jim Coulthard says:

    The current head was appointed by Bush in 2008. I would like to know not just the year but also the day on which he was appointed. Unless I miss my guess, the appointment was made after the 2008 election, and as a courtesy to the incoming president Bush appointed Obama’s choice for the job so Obama’s choice could handle the Inauguration.

    • Jill says:

      As far as I can tell, Schwartz was appointed to his present Nat’l Guard position in June, 2008. So – looks like you are probably right. (I still think “unawareness” on the part of Trump and staff could account for, or play into, the changeover occurring in the midst of the inauguration.)

  5. Chris G says:

    1. My wife will be at the march next weekend so I have a vested interest in this.

    2. The National Guard is commanded by professionals not political hacks. (He writes presumptuously…) There’s a chain of command. Whoever steps in to lead temporarily is (hopefully and in all likelihood) a professional who’s competent to do so. Having the commander leave when he will is not good but I don’t believe it’s cause for panic. That stated, I’m not aware of a bunch of unforced errors summing up to produce something good.

    3. I’m still chewing on your NNSA/FEMA analogy from the other day. As with the National Guard, NNSA’s leadership – the operations side at least – is primarily comprised of professionals. (Once upon a time during the Bush II administration I interacted w NNSA people from time to time. They were good.) When the head of the organization leaves, their temporary replacement will be from the ranks who keeps things running on a day-to-day basis. Presuming they’re competent, it seems unlikely to me that things would quickly go to hell in a hand-basket. That noted, presumably FEMA was also staffed by professionals at the start of the Bush administration but by Katrina (and no doubt before then) they were incapable of responding competently. That begs the question: What’s the timescale for rot to spread if you install a rotten leader at the head of a good organization?

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