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Maryland National Guard returns from short mission in D.C.

Members of the District of Columbia Army National Guard stand guard at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Maryland also sent 120 members of the National Guard to the District of Columbia, and they returned on Saturday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Members of the District of Columbia Army National Guard stand guard at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Maryland also sent 120 members of the National Guard to the District of Columbia, and they returned on Saturday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Members of the Maryland National Guard on Saturday returned from Washington, D.C., where they had controversially been sent to guard national monuments.

“I could not be more proud of their dedication and professionalism in these difficult times,” Maj. Gen. Timothy E. Gowen, Maryland’s adjutant general, wrote in a letter to Guard soldiers and airmen that was posted on Twitter Saturday.

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About 120 members of Maryland’s Guard were dispatched to the nation’s capital on Tuesday at the request of the federal government. They were among hundreds of troops sent by governors from several states.

Maj. Kurt M. Rauschenberg, a spokesman for the Maryland National Guard, said the leadership of the Washington, D.C. National Guard ended the mission.

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“We were there supporting the D.C. National Guard and the D.C. National Guard determined that essentially they were good,” Rauschenberg said. “They had sufficient personnel and they had sufficient resources.”

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, made clear that she did not want out-of-state Guard troops in the city. She repeatedly blasted the move in news conferences and Twitter posts.

Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, has insisted his staff reached out to Bowser’s office, which raised no objection.

He also stressed that the Maryland Guard members were assigned to guard monuments along the National Mall, and weren’t involved in any of the violent confrontations against protesters and members of the press.

Bowser said she never spoke with Hogan and didn’t want Maryland’s troops in the District. Unlike governors, the District of Columbia mayor does not have command over the National Guard.

D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine wrote to Hogan and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh on Thursday, asking for details about how the Guard was called into the city by the federal government.

Frosh responded Saturday saying that he was not consulted and believes that sending in Maryland’s Guard was “ill-advised and potentially dangerous.”

“In my view, the troops should be brought home immediately,” wrote Frosh, a Democrat.

Gowen made reference to the violence committed against civilians during protests in his letter to Guard members.

“The events witnessed over the past week are among the most disturbing I’ve ever seen ... Worst of all, the message demanding change has been overshadowed by the horrific images of police and Guard members in riot gear, burning cars and buildings, looted businesses, and murder," he wrote.

He continued: “We in the MDNG fully and enthusiastically support and defend every American’s right to free speech and peacefully assembly. We too are outraged by the actions leading to the death of George Floyd. We too want to find ways to make this killing the last of its kind. Period.”

Some of the 120 Guard members who were in Washington will return to assignments related to Maryland’s coronavirus response. About 1,300 Guard members have been distributing medical equipment from the national stockpile, delivering tests to nursing homes, serving meals to children and helping operate state-run testing sites.

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