National Guard troops are set to leave DC and turn over security of the area to Capitol Police, five months after being mobilized during the protest and subsequent riot inside the Capitol building on January 6.
The National Guard troops’ mission ended on Sunday.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin praised the troops who deployed to the Capitol and the district during and after January’s events.
“These airmen and soldiers protected not only the grounds but the lawmakers working on those grounds, ensuring the people’s business could continue unabated. They lived out in very tangible ways the oath they took to support and defend the Constitution,” Austin said Monday.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby speaking at the Pentagon said that about 1,000 troops will depart within the next few days.
During the January 6 riot at the Capitol, more than 25,000 Guard members from all 50 states and four territories deployed to Washington DC. That was 10 times the number of troops deployed to Afghanistan at the time.
The violence in the capital left five people dead and delayed the counting of electoral votes, the final step to ratifying the 2020 presidential election.
Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, the retired commander of the 1st Army, was tasked to oversee a security review after the events of January 6. He told CBS News’ Face the Nation that the Capitol will once again be secured by Capitol Police, but that the building will remain closed to the general public because of the strain on the police force.
He recommended that the Guard troops leave behind a quick reaction force (QRF) in case of a potential future issue at the Capitol. However, the Pentagon said that a QRF will not be fielded at the present time, Kirby said at his press briefing.
Honoré’s review produced a 15-page report that recommended the hiring of 854 more Capitol Police officers for the force of about 2,000 to reduce huge overtime costs. It also recommended beefing up the agency’s intelligence analysis functions.
“God bless the National Guard,” Honore said. “They’ve done significant work.”
The Pentagon announced earlier in the week that an extension of the Guard presence on nearly 2,200 troops — had not been requested.
Meanwhile, the head of the House Appropriations Committee has released a $1.9 billion spending proposal to reimburse Guard headquarters and police who responded to the Capitol riot on January 6.
“It’s been a trying but telling year for the National Guard,” Secretary Austin said. “Between natural disasters, civil unrest, and an ongoing pandemic, our Guardsmen and women have been tested time and time again. And each time, they have performed magnificently. So magnificently, in fact, that it would be all too easy to take their service — and that of their incredible families —for granted,” he added.
“We won’t do that, of course, because we know we will continue to call on them in times of need. As these troops depart for home and a much-deserved reunion with loved ones, I hope they do so knowing how much the nation appreciates their service and sacrifice — and that of their families and employers. I hope they know how very proud we are of them.”