National Guard members from 11 states and the District of Columbia will provide security at the U.S. Capitol through the spring, a National Guard spokesman said, amid mounting objections among lawmakers and some military leaders to their deployment.
Guard members from Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Washington state and Wisconsin, along with D.C. National Guard troops, will help secure the Capitol complex, said National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Carver.
All 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia agreed to deploy their Guardsmen to Washington after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, sending a peak of approximately 26,000 troops to secure the city for the presidential inauguration. Several states have since ended those deployments.
This week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved a plan to keep nearly 2,300 Guard troops in Washington. Defense officials said they plan to reduce the Guard’s footprint as conditions allow, and the mission is now slated to end May 23.
The Guard’s deployment at the U.S. Capitol is projected to cost $521 million through May, the Defense Department said this week.
Some lawmakers have objected to the security levels and the accompanying restrictions around the Capitol, which has been guarded with military personnel and tall fencing since the Jan. 6 assault.
On Friday, top Senate Republicans sent a letter to Yogananda Pittman, the acting chief of the Capitol Police, objecting to the measures. “Since the events of January 6, Capitol Police has repeatedly failed to provide specific, credible threat intelligence to adequately justify the current Capitol security posture, which remains disproportionate to the available intelligence,” wrote Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Rob Portman of Ohio, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Richard Shelby of Alabama.
The Capitol Police didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The agency previously said that threats against members of Congress during the first two months of this year were up 93% compared with last year.
Earlier, the top Democrat and Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith (D., Wash.) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), called for a “measured drawdown” of Guard troops at the Capitol.
Military officials also expressed concern. The Army recommended deploying a smaller number of troops, defense officials said. The commander of the National Guard, Gen. Daniel Hokanson, said in a memo that it would be difficult to fill the request for more troops to extend the National Guard presence at the Capitol, after a year of intensive deployments, according to one defense official.
Mr. Austin went against those recommendations in favor of fully supporting the request from the Capitol Police.
Finding troops to remain around the Capitol has been a last-minute effort for the National Guard, which is responsible for filling such requests. The Guard deployed tens of thousands of troops nationwide in the last year in response to Covid-19, civil unrest and natural disasters, defense officials said.
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Source: WSJ – US News