The head of the District of Columbia National Guard has been ordered to step down immediately after President-elect Donald Trump takes office.
Maj. Gen. Errol Schwartz, a political appointee, says the timing is "very unusual", considering he'll send Guardsmen out to protect Trump and hundreds of thousands of others on Inauguration Day but must resign the minute after Trump is sworn in January 20 at noon.
Schwartz confirmed the memo to The Post and said that he would retire at that time but that he did not know the reason for his dismissal. He is also tasked with overseeing military air support that protects Washington D.C. during the inauguration.
"My troops will be on the street", said Schwartz, who turned 65 in October. "I'll see them off but I won't be able to welcome them back to the armory".
"[I would] never plan to leave a mission in the middle of a battle", he said.
The political house-cleaning is perhaps not surprising for an administration that plans to use the inauguration to say, "Let me get back to work", as inauguration planner Tom Barrack told the Associated Press on Tuesday.
Military officials told the Post Trump accepted Schwartz's resignation. It is usual for presidential appointees to submit a letter of resignation when a new president is elected.
Schwartz has been head of the D.C. Guard since 2008 when he was appointed by President George W. Bush.
According to Phillip Carter, a former deputy assistant secretary of Defense under Obama, the Trump team may not have known the role Schwartz played in the inauguration when they chose to accept his resignation immediately. "He's been really very good at working with the community, and my impression was that he was good for the Guard". The idea is to allow the incoming president to keep appointees or accept the resignation and appoint his own. "I'm a presidential appointee". A person close to the transition said transition officials wanted to keep Schwartz in the job for continuity, but the Army pushed to replace him.
Like other deployments, Inauguration Day will be a complicated one for the D.C. National Guard - at least on paper. But he will have to hand over commend to an interim officer in the middle of Inauguration Day.