Photo: Tennessee Army National Guardsmen participating in training in preparation for deployment to Iraq, 2009.
Published January 25, 2021
Tennessee’s National Guard was more than happy to serve when called upon after the attack in the Capitol earlier this month. In response to ongoing threats about the inauguration, decisions were made to deploy thousands of soldiers across D.C. and state capitals throughout the nation.
“To us, it doesn’t matter what political party you are. We’re here for the Constitution of the American people,” said Lieutenant Colonel Tim Shubert. “It was actually a pretty special moment that I got to see some of these young kids, a lot of them have never been outside of their home, except for basic training, and then they got to come here and see something like this.”
25,000 guard members were expected to be at the inauguration to secure the Capitol after the riot left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer.
The Tennessee National Guard sent more than 750 troops to provide support in D.C. for the inauguration.
Tennessee’s guardsmen were enlisted to assist with security, communications, logistics, food service and religious support as part of a national task force.
The mission naturally gained a lot of attention due to ongoing concern about national security, but many more citizens and legislators were inclined to get involved in the affair after images went viral last week of troops sleeping on the floor in the halls of Congress and in parking garages.
Although some guardsman and sources close to them have reported that these photos are nothing to be concerned about and the soldiers resting in these places was minimal or temporary, public outrage incited a response from the Guard.
Guard spokesman Wayne Hall confirmed that Federal Emergency Management Agency received a formal request for more than 1,200 cots “to provide comfort for members of the National Guard supporting law enforcement…”
While this may make a dent in public perception, the National Guard committed on Thursday to keeping 7,000 National Guard troops at the US Capitol through the end of the January and then on Sunday, confirmed that 5,000 of those soldiers will remain at the Capitol through March.
Most members of the Tennessee National Guard returned home on Friday, but the ongoing support in Capitol may remain at the forefront of our minds as we begin to consider the costs of such ventures.
At this time, Capitol officials and administration are unable or unwilling to reveal the value of protecting the Capitol in such a manner for the projected future.
“The Administration’s use of taxpayer dollars to deploy National Guard troops and transfer active-duty military — and their refusal to provide details on these costs — is unacceptable,” expressed Senator Chris Van Hollen.
We are left to make financial projections based on former reporting in similar evebts such as the data reported from BLM protests and statements gathered from the Guard.
D.C. National Guard alone said in a statement that the cost per day for up to 5,000 members was about $2.65 million.
A Reuters analysis of National Guard data showed that over the course of a week starting June 1, 2020 the deployments had cost about $14.5 million.
The plan to keep at least 5,000 Guardsman on the ground for the next 6-8 weeks then begins to look like it will be valued upwards of one hundred million dollars at least.
While it is ultimately undetermined where this funding will come from in the ongoing battle for national health and security, we can be sure one way or another some of it, if not all, will come from taxpayer’s pockets.