Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley defended efforts to deploy the National Guard to the US Capitol during the insurrection and said approval was given at “sprint speed,” The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
“If the forces … were ready to go as part of the preparatory stuff, then I’d say, OK, that’s a fair assessment. But this is the D.C. National Guard that went from a cold start, and they had troops there in two and a half, three hours,” Milley told reporters on Monday in his first public remarks about the Pentagon’s response to the attack, according to the newspaper. “They reacted faster than our most elite forces from a cold start.”
The newspaper also reported that Defense officials approved the request to send National Guard members to the US Capitol in nearly an hour, in which Milley said was “super fast” and “like sprint speed” for the Pentagon.
CNN reached out to the Defense Department and Milley’s office for comment on Wednesday.
The comments from Milley come amid finger pointing and criticism over the response to the deadly insurrection and as military officials prepare to testify about the Capitol riot before the Senate on Wednesday.
The Pentagon is ready to defend itself if necessary at Wednesday’s hearing against accusations it delayed or hindered the deployment of the National Guard, a senior defense official has told CNN. Gen. William Walker, commander of the DC National Guard, and Robert Salesses, a civilian official acting as the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, are expected to testify.
Steven Sund, former Capitol Police chief, and former House and Senate Sergeant at Arms, all of whom resigned after the January 6 riot, blamed the Defense Department for not responding fast enough to their requests for help and accused law enforcement agencies of proving bad intelligence during hearings last week.
Military leaders have maintained there was no delay on their end and that it took time to clarify and organize a response to what they say was a vague yet urgent request for help from city officials and Capitol Police. Former Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told a House panel in January that the Army “cannot mobilize Guardsmen or plan for contingencies without request.”
CNN’s Barbara Starr and Oren Liebermann contributed to this report.