Official says 'optics' delayed Capitol response

The head of the National Guard for Washington, D.C., says Pentagon concerns about "optics" delayed the sending of troops to protect the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack. (March 3)

Video Transcript

WILLIAM WALKER: The Secretary of the Army's January 5 letter to me withheld that authority for me to employ a quick reaction force. Additionally, the Secretary of the Army's memorandum to me required that a concept of operation be submitted to him before the employment of a quick reaction force. I found that requirement to be unusual.

Chief Sund, his voice cracking with emotion, indicated that there was a dire emergency at the Capitol, and he requested the immediate assistance of as many available National Guardsmen that I could muster. Immediately after that 1:49 call, I alerted the US Army senior leadership of the request.

The approval for Chief Sund's request would eventually come from the acting Secretary of Defense, and be relayed to me by Army senior leaders at 5:08 PM, about three hours and 19 minutes later. The army senior leaders did not think that it looked good, it would be a good optic. They further stated that it could incite the crowd.

So their best military advice would be to the Secretary of the Army, who could not get on the call. So we wanted the Secretary of the Army to join the call, but he was not available. We were told that he was with the Secretary of Defense, and not available. But the Army's senior leadership expressed to Chief Contee, Chief Sund, Dr. Mitchell the deputy mayor, and others on the call, that it would not be their best military advice to have uniformed guardsmen on the Capitol.