Department of Defense officials are considering keeping National Guard troops in Washington, D.C. through the fall, according to internal communication obtained by WTTG-TV.
There are currently approximately 6,000 National Guard troops patrolling Washington, D.C., following the Capitol riot on Jan 6. At one point, there were an estimated 26,000 National Guard members in D.C. to provide security for President Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.
An internal communication between the Department of Defense and the National Guard reportedly discusses keeping troops in the nation's capital until the fall.
Robert G. Salesses, who is the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security, allegedly discussed an extension of the National Guard in D.C.
"If it's not possible to sustain at the current level with [National Guard] personnel, we need to establish the number of [National Guard] personnel (DCNG and out-of-state) we can sustain for an extended period – at least through Fall 2021 – and understand additional options for providing [Department of Defense] support, to include use of reserve personnel, as well as active component," Salesses reportedly wrote to the Capitol Police and National Security Council in an email.
Currently, there are plans to keep the National Guard in Washington, D.C., until mid-March. On Monday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the cost of having the National Guard secure Washington, D.C. from Jan. 6 until March 15 will cost taxpayers $483 million — $284 million for personnel and $199 million for operations, according to Forbes.
Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) questioned why there are still National Guard troops in Washington.
"We still have National Guardsmen out there, away from their families, away from their jobs, supplementing the police," Waltz told Fox News host Martha MacCallum. "And yet we can't get a briefing on what is this dire threat that requires so many people. We still don't have answers."
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) also questioned why there were still troops in D.C.
"I sit on the Intelligence Committee, but I'm aware of no specific, credible threat reporting — as distinguished from aspirational, uncoordinated bluster on the internet — that justifies this continued troop presence," Cotton wrote in a Fox News op-ed. "Thus, I believe the rest of these soldiers should also go home to their families and civilian jobs."
The National Guard created a three-mile perimeter around the Capitol grounds after the Capitol riot, complete with barriers, fortified fences, and barbed wires.
Several Republican lawmakers have called for the barriers to be removed after pointing out the hypocrisy of the border wall being canceled by President Joe Biden.
The National Guard provided a statement to WTTG, "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."
Maj. Matt Murphy, a spokesman for the National Guard, told DCist, "We are providing assistance such as security, communications, medical evacuation, logistics, and safety support to state, district and federal agencies."
Law enforcement agencies involved with securing Washinton, D.C. and the federal buildings in the city will reportedly discuss possible plans during a meeting on Feb. 17.