Pentagon to extend National Guard troops at US Capitol
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The announcement comes following a request from Capitol Police that a group of 2,200 National Guard troops remain behind to assist with security concerns.
Fox News confirmed that roughly 1,700 guardsmen will continue to serve at the Capitol – a security force reduced from the 5,000 troops currently deployed in Washington, D.C.
Following the Jan. 6 attack by pro-Trump supporters at the Capitol that resulted in the death of five people, 25,000 National Guardsmen were deployed to Washington to provide increased security through President Biden’s inauguration.
The number of troops was gradually reduced with the intention of removing all guardsmen by mid-March.
However, one source told Fox News last month that it was "naive to think that in the middle of March [the troops] go away."
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby could not confirm if there was any potential for National Guard troops to remain permanently at the U.S. Capitol.
"I don’t think anyone can answer that question right now," he told Fox News Tuesday.
While some lawmakers remained concerned about online threats made by QAnon supporters, who suggested Donald Trump would again rise to power on March 4 – the original Inauguration Day before being changed to Jan. 20 in 1937 – others have called for improved conditions at the Capitol and for troops to be sent home.
"They have proudly answered the call, served our country," Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., wrote in a letter last week to the chief of the National Guard Bureau, following reports of 50 service members having gastrointestinal issues due to inadequate food during their deployment.
"Our troops don't demand a five-star resort or expensive food, but at a minimum, they deserve meals that are safe to consume," he continued, adding, "It's time to get our troops home to their families."
The request by Capitol Police for an extended guard presence was met with pushback, as some governors flatly refused to prolong their troops' deployment in Washington, D.C.
The guardsmen expected to remain at the Capitol will come from various states across the country, Fox News confirmed Tuesday.
Pentagon officials told congressional lawmakers last month that they did not believe a threat to the Capitol persisted.
"We obviously work with our law enforcement partners to determine that threat. That's obviously continuing to evolve," acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security Robert Salesses testified.
"At this time, I'm not aware of a threat that is out there," he added.
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said he had also reviewed the security threats and agreed with Pentagon officials that the threat remains low.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.