"Removed from Command": National Guard Question
January 13, 2017 4:41 PM   Subscribe

So, Major General Errol Schwartz of the DC National Guard will be "removed from command" by order of the president at 12:01 PM on Inauguration Day. The Washington Post says, "As is customary, Schwartz, like other presidential appointees, submitted a letter of resignation to give the new administration a clean start."

I don't know anything about the National Guard. Does "removed from command" mean he's fired? Does the letter of resignation mean he resigned? And in either case, does the National Guard have pensions or retirement benefits that he will no longer be eligible to receive? The Post says he's been in the Guard for 40 years.
posted by scratch to Work & Money (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The WaPo has more detail about the particulars, there are conflicting accounts of who-asked-who. But it's clear he submitted a letter of resignation, the government accepted, and since he served over 20 years and is over 60 years old he'll get retirement pay and TRICARE immediately.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:09 PM on January 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

I think the step that is being missed here is that it is protocol for all presidential appointees to send in their resignation at the end of a term. (In DC, this role is a presidential appointment as there is no Governor to make the appointment.) So he would have offered his resignation under Bush, but Obama would have declined it. He would have offered his resignation at the end of Obama's first term as well, but Obama would have again declined it. He has offered it now, and Trump has accepted it.

This is the "draining of the swamp" in action. All the presidential appointees are out, even the old Bush ones who are still hanging around serving.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:58 PM on January 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

Mr K is actually Retired National Guard Sergeant K, and he finds this an excellent example of FUBAR (a precise military term: Situation Normal All Fucked Up).

High ranking officers move around from command to command on a regular basis, always at someone else's orders. As DarlingBri points out, Presidential appointees routinely submit their resignations at the end of a President's term. Those resignations become effective the minute the new President is sworn is.

But Common Sense would indicate that this should not apply to the general in charge of security at the inauguration, in the middle of the inauguration. Either he steps down early, and the new general is in charge through the whole thing, or his resignation does not become effective until, say, the next day.

It sounds to us like someone with little or no experience of government/military protocol ordered a wholesale production of resignations, and no one thought about the consequences of this individual resignation. Even if there isn't enough Common Sense to reverse this situation, I am positive that lower ranking officers will make sure there is a chain of command in place. There will be thousands of troops at the inauguration, and if there is some sort of attempt at disruption, their officers will not let them mill around at random without a chain of command.
posted by kestralwing at 9:51 PM on January 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:40 PM on January 13, 2017 [11 favorites]

All the presidential appointees are out

Ambassadors too.
President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition staff has issued a blanket edict requiring politically appointed ambassadors to leave their overseas posts by Inauguration Day, according to several American diplomats familiar with the plan, breaking with decades of precedent by declining to provide even the briefest of grace periods.

The mandate — issued “without exceptions,” according to a terse State Department cable sent on Dec. 23, diplomats who saw it said — threatens to leave the United States without Senate-confirmed envoys for months in critical nations like Germany, Canada and Britain. In the past, administrations of both parties have often granted extensions on a case-by-case basis to allow a handful of ambassadors, particularly those with school-age children, to remain in place for weeks or months.
(Emphasis mine.)

More at the NYT
posted by Mister Bijou at 1:14 AM on January 14, 2017

Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition
posted by dondiego87 at 5:51 AM on January 14, 2017 [6 favorites]

There's a distinction between being in the National Guard in the sense of one weekend a month two weeks every summer and being a full-time member or employee of the National Guard.
posted by fixedgear at 6:29 AM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Good grief. I thought I was handling all the current turmoil very calmly, but confusing SNAFU and FUBAR indicates my mind is not as clear as I thought.

I'm still sure that the officers in charge of inauguration control and protection will know, among themselves, very clearly who has the authority to make emergency decisions.

Going to lie down now with a cool cloth on my forehead.
posted by kestralwing at 11:14 AM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My understanding:

The president of the U.S. never fires anyone. He informs them that their resignation letter is due on his desk at x time.

Removed from command is, yes, kind of like being fired from that position. But a military job is not like a civilian job. An officer does not lose their rank when he loses a job (unless he is also "busted" for some reason). In many cases, leaving one command involves transferring to another position within the military, sometimes even in cases that in civilian parlance would be called "fired with cause."

If they have served for at least 20 years and do not like the new post they are being offered, they have the option to retire with whatever retirement benefits they would typically recieve. Unless they are also busted for some reason, being relieved of command in no way impacts their retirement benefits. (Military personnel who are jailed for crimes are very often also busted down in rank for this reason.)

There was a movie based on real life events about a general who disobeyed orders to do the right thing, was relieved of command and offered a paper pushing job and chose to retire. I think it starred Gene Hackman. You might find that story helpful in understanding this.
posted by Michele in California at 11:46 AM on January 14, 2017

I found this Facebook post helpful.
posted by rakaidan at 1:02 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

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