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Reports: Nat’l Guard could stay in DC through fall 2021

New Jersey Air National Guard airmen finish their shift near the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2021. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
February 16, 2021

Approximately 6,000 National Guard troops remain deployed in Washington D.C., more than a month after 26,000 were deployed to support security during President Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. New reports released over the weekend say a large number of troops could remain active in the city through fall 2021.

According to an internal email obtained by FOX 5 DC, Department of Defense and National Security Council officials have discussed retaining troops in the capital city through the fall, and will meet Wednesday for further discussion.

The National Guard had previously planned to maintain about 5,000 troops in D.C. through the middle of March.

Robert Salesses, who has been performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security since Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, said, “If it’s not possible to sustain at the current level with NG personnel, we need to establish the number of NG personnel (DCNG and out-of-state) we can sustain for an extended period – at least through Fall 2021 – and understand additional options for providing DoD support, to include use of reserve personnel, as well as active component.”

A senior defense official told Fox News the email was part of “internal deliberations” and “no decisions have been made.”

A D.C. National Guard spokesperson told FOX 5 DC, “The National Guard is conducting prudent planning for the eventual end of the security mission and the return of its Soldiers and Airmen to their home stations.”

Reacting to the report DoD officials are considering keeping troops in D.C. through the fall, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) told Fox News on Tuesday, “It is time to send the troops home. Look, there are too many troops left in Washington. I’m not aware of any – any – threat to justify a continued presence today around the capital, much less into the fall.”

In addition to about 26,000 National Guard troops, which came from all 50 U.S. states and various U.S. territories, about 2,750 active-duty troops were also deployed in D.C. to support the inauguration. About 2,000 active-duty troops provided ceremonial support, such as marching bands and honor guards. The remaining 750 were deployed for “contingency support,” providing various explosives and hazardous material handling and emergency medical expertise.

In the days following the inauguration, photos and videos emerged of thousands of Guard troops taking shelter in a parking garage after they were ordered to leave a Senate office building.

After the images emerged of troops lounging in the parking garage, Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas recalled their state’s troops from D.C.