The commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, Major General Errol Schwartz, has been ordered to removed from his post on Inauguration Day after spending months preparing for the event.
The order is effective January 20, 12:01 p.m., which is when President-elect Donald Trump is set to be sworn into office, according to Schwartz who spoke to The Washington Post.
He also told The Post that “the timing is extremely unusual,” given that the commanding general is tasked with overseeing military operations, including air support, during the inauguration.
“My troops will be on the street,” he said, adding that he will “see them off but … won’t be able to welcome them back to the armory.”
Schwartz, who was appointed to lead the guard by President George W. Bush in 2008, maintained the position through both of President Obama’s terms. He said that his orders came from the Pentagon but that he doesn’t know who made the decision. It is unclear whether he is part of a larger class of federal workers who have been asked to leave their jobs as a new president takes office.
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson slammed the decision to remove Schwartz, and particularly, the timing. “It doesn’t make sense to can the general in the middle of an active deployment,” Mendelson said. He added that Schwartz’s sudden departure would be a long-term loss for the District. “He’s been really very good at working with the community and my impression was that he was good for the Guard.”
D.C. is unique in that while in the states the governor appoints the National Guard commander, in D.C., it is done by the president.
For his part, Schwartz said that he was not told why he was asked to step down. “I am a soldier,” he told The Post, saying that he follows orders and has no regrets. “I am a presidential appointee. Therefore, the president has the power to remove me.”