The Army’s Criminal Police Command briefed the DC National Guard of their investigation on Tuesday, and those within range on March 11 made their statements to investigators on Thursday, one respondent said. They filled nearly a dozen pages with questions about their whereabouts and memories. Chris Gray, a spokesman for the Army Criminal Investigation Command, confirmed that the command is investigating the missing rifle.
DC National Guard leaders began questioning guards stationed at the Capitol shortly after the rifle was discovered to be missing. However, the incident was not resolved, which is why it was referred to the Criminal Investigation Command, known as CID – an indication that greater resources were needed to locate the weapon and that the Army is investigating potential criminal activity.
The incident also occurs when the Pentagon, under Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, is leading efforts to eradicate extremism within the military.
The Department of Defense does not take such incidents lightly. A commandant and sergeant major were fired last year after their infantry battalion lost two rifles during a training exercise in December 2019 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina still investigate the missing rifles a year later.
After the January 6 uprising, thousands of National Guard troops were sent to Washington from across the country. Troops patrolled the area, erecting tall fences to expand the security area – some of which were recently demolished.
Although no other significant threats have emerged since Jan. 6, the Pentagon approved a motion by the Capitol Police in early March to keep around 2,300 National Guard troops in Washington for the mission, about half the number previously deployed there. Over the next two months, the department announced that it would work with law enforcement to reduce the presence of the troops “if conditions permit.”
The news of the missing rifle comes as the Pentagon is already under legislature fire for allegedly rolling the Capitol Police’s call for additional National Guard support as the situation unfolded on Jan. 6. Major General William Walker, commander of the DC National Guard, recently tapped as a sergeant in the House of Representatives, testified that it took senior officials hours to approve the motion and feared that the look of National Guard forces approaching the Capitol could the rioters would “ignite”.
Pentagon officials denied the report on the grounds that former Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller acted promptly to process the request, but conceded that the permit may not have been quickly passed on to Walker.
Even so, Walker testified that a quicker response from the guard would have helped prevent the situation from escalating.
“We could have helped expand the scope and push the crowd back,” said Walker.