Head of DC National Guard ordered to resign during Donald Trump inauguration

January 14, 2017 10:00 pm

Major General Errol R. Schwartz (2nd from left) is seen at a conference on December 14 at the armory in Washington. (file photo)

The Army general, who has spent months planning to guard ’s inauguration in Washington DC, has been ordered to leave his post during the event – just as the president-elect takes the oath of office.
Major General Errol R. Schwartz, who heads the District of Columbia (DC) National Guard, will step down at 12:01 p.m. local time on January 20, while thousands of his troops will be protecting the capital.
“The timing is extremely unusual,” Schwartz told The Washington Post on Friday. “My troops will be on the street. I’ll see them off but I won’t be able to welcome them back to the armory.”
The general said he would never plan to leave command in the middle of a mission. “I’m a soldier. I’m a presidential appointee. Therefore, the president has the power to remove me.”
In addition to members of the DC National Guard, Schwartz will also command 5,000 unarmed troops and military air support dispatched from across the country to help protect Washington during the ceremony.
The order for his resignation came from the Pentagon in an email. It also names his interim successor, brigadier general William Walker, who “is ready to assume complete mission” and handle the inauguration, according to a spokesman at the Defense Department.
Two military officials with knowledge of the situation told The Post that the Trump team decided to accept the resignation.
Phil Mendelson, the chairman of the DC Council said, “It doesn’t make sense” to remove a general in the middle of an active deployment.
Schwartz had offered his resignation to President Barack Obama twice, but the request had been rejected. It is usual for presidential appointees to submit a letter of resignation when a new president is elected.
Schwartz is not the only official who must step down as soon as Trump is sworn in as the 45th commander in chief. Trump issued a mandate late in December, according to which all US ambassadors appointed by Obama must leave their posts by January 20 “without exceptions.”
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