‘You’re a Go’: How Miscues and Confusion Delayed the National Guard on Jan. 6

As a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the commanders and members of the District of Columbia National Guard waited in frustration for hours for the order to help put down the riot unfolding just minutes from where they were stationed.

With marauders assaulting the police and people dying at the Capitol, Gen. William J. Walker, then the commander of the D.C. Guard, turned to colleagues and openly contemplated defying his chain of command and sending his troops immediately to help the overrun Capitol Police restore order.

“If I could send them right now without being fired, I would send them right now,” General Walker told Brig. Gen. Aaron R. Dean II, then the Guard’s adjutant general.

What General Walker did not know as he fumed was that his superiors at the Pentagon had already agreed that the Guard needed to be deployed but, because of a huge miscommunication, hadn’t conveyed the order.

It was only through a bit of chance — and hours later — that the command made its way to General Walker, when a colleague who had heard there was an order from on high to deploy walked by a teleconference screen and was surprised to see General Walker still sitting and waiting at 5:09 p.m.

The colleague, General James C. McConville, the Army chief of staff, “came back into the call and said, ‘Hey, you’re a go,’” according to General Walker’s testimony.

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