After thousands of National Guard troops deployed to Washington D.C. for more than four months, the force is warning Congress that the $520 million bill has come due and if it is not reimbursed it will have to make significant cuts to its training and ground its aircraft, according to documents first obtained by Military.com this week.
In a memo to Congress from the National Guard Bureau, first reported by Military.com on Tuesday, the force said it needs to be assured by July 1st that it will be reimbursed for the costs of the D.C. deployment. If the funding does not come through, Guard commanders in all 54 states and territories will be ordered to prepare to halt or even cancel training operations through August and September.
Fox News reported Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said, “Without those resources, the Guard . . . will find themselves with training issues.” Wormuth also said Guard units have already begun to postpone some training.
In the aftermath of demonstrators entering the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and temporarily disrupting the certification of election results for Joe Biden, military leaders called up more than 25,000 National Guard troops to Washington D.C. to provide security for Biden’s presidential inauguration. Tens of thousands of Guard troops stayed in D.C. in the days and weeks after Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, and while many Guard units began to wind down their deployments, thousands of Guard units saw their deployments extended through to May 23.
Several lawmakers questioned the decision to extend the deployments throughout February and March. Biden’s Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reportedly overruled National Guard Bureau Cheif Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, who opposed extending the deployments through late May.
The new Guard memo also warned that cancellations of training events could cause “thousands” of guard troops to lose out on enough service time this year to affect their military retirement.
The Guard memo states that on top of the canceled training events, grounded aircraft, and affected retirements, the 2,000 “functional and occupational” schools will be suspended. Halting the school operations would impact career progression for both officers and enlisted members, who rely on the schools to reclass into new jobs and receive qualifications necessary for promotions.
The lengthy D.C. deployment also followed a busy 2020 for Guard units, who were frequently deployed to assist states in COVID-19 response efforts, as well as to assist law enforcement amid months of protests and riots following the death of George Floyd. Thousands of Guard troops also deployed in October and November to assist states’ elections during the 2020 election cycle.