Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, appeared during a joint hearing on Wednesday to discuss the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
WILLIAM WALKER: So the memo was unusual in that it required me to seek authorization from the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of Defense to essentially even protect my guardsmen. So no civil disturbance equipment could be authorized, unless it came from the Secretary of Defense.
Now, the Secretary of the Army, to his credit, did tell me that I could have force protection equipment with the guardsmen, so we did have helmets, shin guards, vests, we did have that with us, but that came from the Secretary of the Army. The Secretary of Defense told me I needed his permission to escalate, to have that kind of protection.
GARY PETERS: That kind of protection, even though you would be engaged in force protection, to protect your men and women, before you could do that, you would have to get approval from the Secretary of Defense?
WILLIAM WALKER: The memo from the Secretary of Defense made clear that I needed his permission to have-- so what it says, without my personal authorization, the District of Columbia National Guard is not authorized the following, to be issued weapons, ammunition, bayonets, batons, or ballistic protection equipment, such as helmets and body armor. Now again, to be clear, the Secretary of the Army told me to go ahead and issue that equipment. So we never were going to have weapons or ammunition, and we no longer have bayonets. But we do have ballistic protection equipment, helmets, body armor, so I did have that with each guardsmen.
GARY PETERS: Thank you, general. But that was unusual, as you mentioned, to have that kind of request. You were on the January 6 phone call at 2:30 that we heard from our previous hearing, where the Chief of Capitol Police was making an urgent appeal for help, and we heard that the DC Metro Police chief said it was a tepid response, he was shocked by it. What happened on that call? What was your recollection of the call, and the assessment of the two individuals I mentioned, was that your assessment as well?
WILLIAM WALKER: Yes, sir. So that call came in, it was-- we actually helped facilitate it, the deputy mayor from the District of Columbia, and Dr. Rodriguez, Chief Contee, Chief Sund later joined the conversation, and we dialed in the senior leadership of the US Army. And at that time, Chief Contee and Chief Sund passionately pleaded for District of Columbia National Guard to get to the Capitol with all deliberate speed.
So 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.