WASHINGTON—Shortly after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy got the first of several calls from Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser. Trump supporters were breaching the Capitol, overwhelming police officers, and Ms. Bowser wanted D.C. National Guard soldiers for reinforcement.

Pentagon officials asked for clarification, saying they needed a request based on capabilities rather than number of forces, defense officials said. “What do you want to do with them?” one U.S. official asked. “There was a determined sense of urgency but not a sense of panic. We wanted to get these guys moving.”

About 90 minutes passed sorting out those needs, with Mr. McCarthy approving the redeployment of 200 troops already at traffic checkpoints and subway stations in the city. More time went by before the soldiers retrieved protective gear and arrived at the Capitol.

In those hours, the mob rioted through the halls and offices of Congress, in the first siege of the building by American citizens. Five people died, including a woman shot by police as she climbed through a smashed door pane outside the House chamber and a police officer fatally injured after being struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.

As rioters stormed the Capitol, the numerous federal and local agencies that police the nation’s capital produced a flood of urgent communications, but they struggled to sort through lines of command and coordinate a forceful response to the assault spiraling beyond their control.

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News – In Capitol Riot, Communications Between Agencies Hampered Forceful Response