Pentagon refines DC National Guard approval authority after Capitol riot

FILE PHOTO: The remains of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick lay in honor in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Thursday said the defense secretary would be the individual solely responsible for approving requests that would involve District of Columbia National Guard troops in civilian law enforcement activities.

The move came as a result of a months-long Pentagon review of how the military generally handles requests for the National Guard within Washington, D.C.

The district's National Guard is the only one in the country that reports to the president, with the authority previously delegated to the Army secretary by the defense secretary.

The review came after questions were raised about whether the National Guard was deployed quickly enough to try and help stop the Jan. 6 mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol building.

"The Secretary of Defense is now the single approval authority for all requests that would involve District of Columbia National Guard personnel participating directly in civilian law enforcement activities or that require the deployment of DCNG (D.C. National Guard) personnel within 48 hours after receipt of the request," a Pentagon statement said.

The Pentagon said it also has created a unit within the building to act as a single point for such requests.

William Walker, then the District of Columbia’s National Guard commander, told senators during a hearing in March that Pentagon officials took more than three hours to approve a request by the U.S. Capitol Police for National Guard troops to back up police under attack by rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Four people died in the riot by supporters of then-President Donald Trump and one Capitol police officer died the next day of injuries sustained while defending Congress.

Hundreds of police were injured during the hours-long onslaught and four officers who guarded the Capitol subsequently took their own lives.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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