- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 19, 2021

National Guard troops who have been helping to protect the U.S. Capitol will be heading back home by the end of the week.

On Wednesday, chief Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said their mission is expected to wrap up by May 23. 

“We have received no request to extend it,” Mr. Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon.

National Guard troops were dispatched to Washington, D.C., following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Trump challenging the results of the 2020 election. At its height, there were about 5,200 National Guard troops arrayed around the building. As of Wednesday, that number was 2,149, officials said.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved a request from the Capitol Police to extend the National Guard mission from March to May 23. At the time, Pentagon officials said the troops were needed because the police force didn’t have sufficient manpower to guarantee security at the scene amid growing concerns.

The decision proved controversial with some members of Congress, saying the fencing and military personnel made it appear that the Capitol was under siege.

SEE ALSO: House passes bill to create Jan. 6 commission; 35 Republicans join Democrats

Even as their mission in the nation’s capital is coming to an end, the Department of Homeland Security wants the Pentagon to extend the deployment of about 4,000 National Guard troops working along the U.S.-Mexico border past Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

The National Guard personnel are there to support the U.S. Customs and Border Protection deal with the mass influx of immigrants illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.

“They believe there is still a need for the [National Guard’s] enabling capabilities,” Mr. Kirby said. “Our job is to analyze that request.”

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

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