What Does It Cost to Deploy the National Guard?

Mandatory Credit: Photo by MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (11695567c)DC National Guard clear an area near the West Front of the US Capitol after pro-Trump protesters stormed the grounds earlier in the day, in Washington, DC, USA, 06 January 2021.
MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock / MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The violence and insurgence at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. yesterday, which left four people dead, was largely left uncontrolled for many hours before the National Guard was finally deployed, raising questions as to the lack of security and about the cost of force for the American taxpayer.

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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser had asked the Department of Defense, which oversees the National Guard, for additional support in advance of Wednesday’s pro-Trump “Save America March,” which saw thousands of the President’s supporters descend on the nation’s capital. The march coincided with Congress’ certification of President-Elect Joe Biden.

The requests were initially denied. In a statement, the District of Columbia Council said: “Today, the Department of Defense denied a request by Mayor Muriel Bowser to expand the responsibilities of the District of Columbia National Guard so that they would be authorized to protect and restore order at the Capitol Building. That request was denied.”

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The statement further reads that the Council is in full support of the Mayor’s request. “We are appalled that this fundamental request was denied. We urge the Department of Defense to reconsider their decision, and to allow the National Guard to restore safety and sanctity to the Capitol, the cornerstone of our Democracy.”

During the protests that erupted after George Floyd’s murder, the Department of Defense dispatched 1,200 D.C. National Guard troops and 3,900 from other states to Washington to support law enforcement. U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) called Trump’s deployment of states’ National Guard troops against peaceful protesters “an affront to our Constitution” and an example of Republicans undermining D.C.’s right to self-govern, according to Reuters.

“The Administration’s use of taxpayer dollars to deploy National Guard troops and transfer active-duty military — and their refusal to provide details on these costs — is unacceptable,” the Maryland senator said in a statement to Reuters at the time.

The D.C. National Guard said in a statement that the cost per day of up to 5,000 National Guard members was about $2.65 million, and a Reuters analysis of National Guard data showed that over the course of a week starting June 1, the deployments cost about $14.5 million.

After much delay yesterday, the Washington, D.C. National Guard force of 1,100 was finally activated, following Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller’s coordination of the effort with Vice President Mike Pence.

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This chaos and violence comes on the heels of last week’s Congressional override of President Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, the $750 billion defense policy bill. The bill provides funding for the Defense Department and Energy Department’s national-security programs, including a 3% pay raise for U.S. troops. It also includes items related to anti-money-laundering efforts, cybersecurity, overseas military commitments, Space Force and the U.S. border wall.

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On social media, many were left wondering who would pay for the multi-million dollar expense of the clean-up of the Capitol and the deployment of police and the National Guard.

Also last week, all 10 living former U.S. defense secretaries, including Dick Cheney, James Mattis, Mark Esper, Leon Panetta, Donald Rumsfeld, William Cohen, Chuck Hagel, Robert Gates, William Perry and Ashton Carter wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post stating that the U.S, presidential election is over and that “the time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived.”

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“Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted.”

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a former full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

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