Not long after the events at the Capitol building that took place on Jan. 6, thousands of National Guard troops were deployed for security detail in and around the Capitol complex, though none of the supposed threats ever came to fruition.
After four long months of being deployed in the nation’s capital to guard against a virtually non-existent threat, the National Guard’s mission in Washington, D.C. is finally coming to an official end, with the remaining 2,149 troops stationed there scheduled to return home this week, according to The Hill.
Operations “return to normal”
Late last week, an official with the D.C. National Guard relayed to a reporter that the Guard’s operations will “return to normal,” as the U.S. Department of Defense decided not to request another extension of the deployment.
“The Capitol Police have not requested the Guard to stay past May 23. Once the mission concludes, D.C. National Guard will return to normal operations and the out-of-state Guard members will return to their home station,” said Capt. Chelsi B. Johnson of the D.C. National Guard Public Affairs office.
The last extension of the National Guard’s deployment was in March, as newly-minted Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved the request to keep troops deployed in D.C. until May 23. The request was approved at the time “after a thorough review of the request and after close consideration of its potential impact on readiness,” according to a Pentagon spokesperson.
At peak numbers, which was at the time of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, there were some 26,000 National Guard members from multiple states stationed in the nation’s capital, according to Aviation Pros. That number slowly dropped to 13,000, to 7,000 and finally down to 5,000 earlier this year.
The large number of troops stationed in the area was at least partially based on threat bulletins released by the FBI at the time claiming that there existed a strong possibility of violent protests breaking out across the country, which never occurred.
“Quick reaction force”
A number of Republicans have criticized Democrats for the National Guard troop deployment in D.C., with many of them accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) of using the troops as a prop.
According to The Hill, while the National Guard troops are finally being sent home, some have suggested the creation of a “quick reaction force” of National Guard troops who would be ready to respond to threats or violent insurrections in the nation’s capital at a moment’s notice.
That idea is also being shot down by top Republicans on both the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees, who argue that proper analysis on the costs vs. benefits of having such a force haven’t been properly studied, nor is there a need to continue to “militarize” the Capitol.
“We cannot and should not militarize the security of the Capitol Complex,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) wrote in a joint statement. “Further, Congress has held precisely no hearings to examine the creation of a Quick Reaction Force to weigh costs, benefits and fundamental questions about its nature and responsibilities.”
The two Republicans suggested that civilian police officers should be used to assemble such a force, which they argue would be cheaper and ultimately more effective than what is involved in deploying National Guard troops.