Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is giving his first public remarks about the Pentagon’s reaction since protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
The top U.S. military officer said the Pentagon acted quickly, in what he called a “sprint speed,” in responding to help as people stormed the U.S. Capitol on the day of President Joe Biden’s election win certification, according to The Washington Post.
Speaking with reporters on Monday in Colorado, Milley said, “If the forces … were ready to go as part of the preparatory stuff, then I’d say, okay, that’s a fair assessment. But this is the D.C. National Guard that went from a cold start, and they had troops there in two and a half, three hours.”
“They reacted faster than our most elite forces from a cold start,” he added.
Pentagon leaders approved the request to send additional National Guard troops to the Capitol in roughly an hour that day, Milley said. It then took several hours for D.C. National Guard members to fully deploy.
“For the Pentagon, that’s super fast,” he said. “That’s like sprint speed.”
Milley, however, acknowledged, “If you were down there and you’re in the Capitol being attacked, an hour is a lifetime. So I can clearly understand their feelings that that was a very slow response.”
“But from a technical military standpoint, from the receipt of the phone call, to alerting National Guard forces from a cold start, to them being on the scene, was very fast,” he added.
“I think it’s a bit of a mischaracterization or a misunderstanding of response times for the military.”
Milley was also asked about former President Donald Trump claiming he suggested ahead of Jan. 6 that 10,000 National Guard troops should be deployed to Washington, D.C.
Trump claimed during a Fox News interview on Sunday, “They took that number. From what I understand, they gave it to the people at the Capitol, which is controlled by Pelosi. And I heard they rejected it because they didn’t think it would look good. So, you know, that was a big mistake.”
Milley said he did not receive a request like that.
“As chairman of the Joint Chiefs, if there was an order for 10,000 National Guardsmen, I would like to believe I would know that,” the top U.S. military officer said. “I know that that was never transmitted to me by anyone — the president or secretary of defense or anyone else — for 6th of January.”
The U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff previously issued a rare joint message condemning the Capitol insurrection.
“The violent riot in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021 was a direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building, and our Constitutional process,” seven generals and one admiral said.
D.C. National Guard Maj. Gen. William Walker and other officials will be testifying before the Senate Homeland and Rules committees on Wednesday.
Ahead of the hearing, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said, “Every minute counts — every minute counts when you have an insurrection going on. So what happened there, I think that’s going to be a major part of this.”