Last week, the Washington Post first reported that the Army general who leads the D.C. National Guard will be relieved of his duties at 12:01 PM on January 20th, just moments after Donald Trump is scheduled to be sworn in. Major General Errol R. Schwartz will be removed from command while thousands of U.S. troops he is responsible for overseeing will be deployed to protect and secure the area surrounding the nation’s capital.
“The timing is extremely unusual,” Schwartz said.
“My troops will be on the street,” he said. “I’ll see them off but I won’t be able to welcome them back to the armory.”
Schwartz also added that he would “never plan to leave a mission in the middle of a battle.”
Schwartz has been involved in the security planning surrounding the inauguration for the past several months. An interim chief will replace him immediately as he departs from his post on Friday to continue to oversee the operation that includes not only the D.C. guard, but an additional 5,000 unarmed troops from across the country.
Schwartz told the Washington Post that he did not know why he was being removed at that time but as a “soldier” he is just following orders.
Schwartz handed in a letter of resignation to give the incoming administration the option of a fresh start. However, there are conflicting stories about who made the decision to pull him at noon on Friday.
Two military officials told The Washington Post that the Trump transition team received the resignation and accepted it. Another person close to the transition stated that the Trump team wanted to keep the Maj. Gen. but the Army pushed to replace him.
“I’m a presidential appointee, therefore the president [has] the power to remove me,” he said.
Schwartz was appointed by the Bush Administration in 2008 and held the position through the entirety of President Obama’s two consecutive four year terms.