At least 5,000 National Guard troops will remain in Washington, D.C., through mid-March, according to a statement provided to CBS News. Troops from across the country have been staying in the capital city since January 13, a week after insurgents overran the U.S. Capitol in a deadly attack.
“As we continue to work to meet the final post-inauguration requirements, the National Guard has been requested to continue supporting federal law enforcement agencies with 7,000 members and will draw down to 5,000 through mid-March,” the statement reads. “We are providing assistance such as security, communications, medical evacuation, logistics and safety support to state district and federal agencies.”
At least 25,000 troops were sent to stand guard in the Washington, D.C., area in advance of President Joe Biden’s inauguration due to a continued “very high” threat level following the Capitol siege.
Thousands of troops have been using the Capitol building’s hallways and open space to rest during their shifts. This week, however, some members were asked to leave the Capitol and relocate to a nearby parking garage for rest. The decision drew condemnation from lawmakers.
The decision was reversed late Thursday night. “Brigadier General Janeen Birckhead, Inauguration Task Force Commander confirms that troops are out of the garage and back into the Capitol building as authorized by the USCP (U.S. Capitol Police) Watch Commander and the troops will take their breaks near Emancipation Hall going forward,” the Guard said in a statement.
The Guard noted in a statement on Friday that it is working with the Capitol Police to protect the legislative complex. “The USCP and the National Guard have coordinated their efforts to ensure that National Guardsmen and women are stationed throughout the Capitol Complex are in appropriate spaces within Congressional buildings, including the U.S. Capitol, where they may take on-duty breaks,” the statement said, adding that “off-duty troops are being housed in hotel rooms or other comfortable accommodations.”
“The National Guard appreciates the continuous support of Congressional members who expressed concern for our National Guard men and women. The USCP is also grateful for the support of the Congress concerning the wellbeing of the women and men of the Department.”
Four Republican governors are ordering their state’s troops to leave the city following the parking garage relocation, Politico reports. “These folks are soldiers,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis told Fox News on Friday. “They’re not Nancy Pelosi’s servants. This comes on the back end of them trying to investigate the backgrounds of our Guardsmen. Florida, we did not let them go into their political beliefs. That was totally inappropriate.”
Two National Guard members wereahead of the inauguration ceremonies over possible ties to extremist groups, officials said. The two soldiers made “inappropriate comments or texts” and were sent home “out of an abundance of caution,” according to National Guard chief General Dan Hokanson. Ten others were also removed from duty for reasons unrelated to extremism.
Mr. Biden “expressed his appreciation for the amazing support from the 54 states and territories that volunteered to send Guardsmen to the Capital on such short notice” during a phone call with General Hokanson on Saturday, according to a statement from the Guard.
“The president expressed his heartfelt appreciation for the Guard and pledged to keep in contact with General Hokanson,” reads the statement. “President Biden shared the same message on a call to the Adjutants General of the 54 States, Territories and DC. General Hokanson in turn thanked the President for his support.”