- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Almost 2,300 National Guard soldiers will remain on duty in Washington, D.C., through May 23, Pentagon officials announced Tuesday night.

The two-month extension of the National Guard‘s mission in the nation’s capital was approved by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the request of the U.S. Capitol Police.

“This represents a reduction of nearly 50 percent of the current support force,” chief Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby said in a statement.

National Guard troops from around the country were rushed to Washington, D.C., following the Jan. 6 riot by Trump supporters that resulted in a mob forcing its way into the U.S. Capitol. At its height, more than 25,000 National Guard soldiers were deployed. 

They were initially kept at their posts to provide extra security until March 12. The remaining troops will augment the U.S. Capitol Police.

“This decision was made after a thorough review of the request and after close consideration of its potential impact on readiness,” Mr. Kirby said.

Some Republican governors balked at keeping their National Guard troops in Washington after they were ordered out of the Dirksen Senate Office Building and into a garage. 

Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee and said he has seen no credible threat that justifies keeping the National Guard troops on duty.

“During this extended period, (Department of Defense) officials will work with the U.S. Capitol Police to incrementally reduce the National Guard footprint as conditions allow,” Mr. Kirby said.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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