The majority of the troops staying in D.C. will be on a volunteer basis, but several groups have been involuntarily extended through Feb. 6, according to two Guard members, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the topic.
On Thursday, Guard members were abruptly called to leave the Dirksen Senate Office building and vacated into a parking garage, a Guardsman previously told POLITICO. There were about 5,000 troops in a garage without internet and one bathroom with two stalls, with chilly nighttime temperatures, the Guardsman said.
“They don’t complain but it’s my job to really protect the team and make sure they are not put into those substandard conditions, so we pulled them out,” Sununu said on Fox & Friends on Saturday morning. “If there’s another call, there’s another mission we’re always going to be there, absolutely. But I just needed to make sure we weren’t being part of a broken system.”
DeSantis called the deployment a “half-cocked mission at this point” and said it was time to bring the Guardsmen home.
“These folks are soldiers,” DeSantis said on Fox News on Friday morning. “They’re not Nancy Pelosi’s servants. This comes on the back end of them trying to investigative the backgrounds of our guardsmen. Florida, we did not let them go into their political beliefs. That was totally inappropriate.”
One Guard member whose unit has been involuntarily extended through Feb. 6 said morale was already low due to the long hours and poor conditions. The extension is a new hardship, particularly during a devastating pandemic in which many of the citizen-soldiers would rather be home with their families.
“The treatment we’ve received lately and the Covid symptoms we face are taking their toll. Especially as it becomes clear to us that we are no longer wanted,” the person said. “It’s shameful.”
Abbott said the Guard troops had to go through a “political correctness test.”
“These are men and women who should be respected and not denigrated,” Abbott said on Hannity on Friday. “These are men and women who have served in Afghanistan and overseas and yet they are forced to sleep in a parking garage.”