At noon on Inauguration Day, precisely the moment Donald Trump is
scheduled to be sworn as president, there will be another changing of the
guard in Washington.
The D.C. National Guard announced Friday that its commanding general,
Army Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, will be stepping down as of 12 p.m. on
As commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, Schwartz serves at
the pleasure of the president — the only National Guard leader in the
country to be appointed by the White House. As with other appointees,
like members of the Cabinet, it is at the discretion of the incoming
administration whether to keep Schwartz in command once Trump
Still, the abrupt change in command is unusual for the D.C. National Guard,
particularly on a day when the force — along with 5,000 additional service
members from around the country — will be working to maintain the security
of the incoming president and those who have come to see him sworn in.
“My troops will be on the street,” Schwartz told The Washington Post, telling
the paper that his removal was ordered by the Pentagon but that he doesn’t
know who made the call. “I’ll see them off but I won’t be able to welcome
them back to the armory.”
What’s more, it has been common for new administrations to hold on to the
commanders appointed by the previous president. Schwartz himself was
picked for his command by President George W. Bush in the summer of
2008; President Obama kept him on for the entirety of his two terms.
Bush, in turn, kept Maj. Gen. Warren L. Freeman, a Clinton appointee, for
his first two years in office. And President Clinton left Russell C. Davis —
who had been appointed by President George H.W. Bush — in command of
the force for nearly all of his first term.
But it’s not the first time an appointee who served during Obama’s
administration has been told to hit the road on Inauguration Day. Last
month, the president-elect’s transition staff issued a mandate to all
politically appointed U.S. ambassadors to leave their posts on that date,
with no exceptions.
“Some administrations have left people a little longer if they didn’t have a
successor right away or the kids were in school or something, for family
and human reasons,” Neumann said, “but there’s no requirement that
they do so.”
When Schwartz steps down on Inauguration Day, he will be replaced in the
interim by Brig. Gen. William J. Walker, the commander of the D.C. Army
National Guard’s land component.