National Guard troops are wrapping up their months-long mission of securing the United States Capitol this week, the Pentagon said Monday.
“Their mission is over. There’s still about 1,000 or so that are still in the Capitol area, but they’re in the process as their whole effort now is just in the process of moving on back home,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Monday.
Kirby said there are no plans for any National Guard members to remain in place for the mission.
‘The thousand or so that are still in the Capitol region are preparing for departure. I don’t have any additional requests or desires to talk to today by the Capitol Police for any residual capabilities,” he said.
However, he added, “If that changes, we’ll certainly let you know.”
Kirby did not rule out the creation of a quick reaction force to take the troops’ place, as recommended in a review commissioned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“I think we’re still taking in some of the recommendations by General Honore and his team. No decisions have been made about any of the specifics with respect to those recommendations. And again, if that changes, we’ll let you know,” he said.
He said he knew of no specific plans to act on the recommendations, but said, “We’re still going through that and in–in concert with the interagency to see what capabilities might be best going forward. But I wouldn’t want to speculate right now.”
The nearly six-month mission cost at least $483 million.
After the January 6 breach of the Capitol Building, more than 25,000 National Guard troops deployed to Washington, DC, to protect the building, other federal buildings and monuments, and the January 20 inauguration of President Joe Biden.
Their deployment at one point prompted a huge scandal after at least dozens of troops were forced to take their breaks in parking garages near the Capitol Building, as lawmakers trickled back to the Capitol.
Biden and first lady Jill Biden thanked National Guard members in a statement on Monday, calling what happened on January 6 an “insurrection.”
“We want to offer our deepest thanks and enduring gratitude to the women and men of our National Guard for their service to keep the U.S. Capitol Building secure over the past nearly five months. Since the insurrection on January 6, thousands of proud service members, from states and territories all across our Union, have stood watch over the citadel of our democracy,” the Bidens said in a joint statement.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also issued a thank you to the National Guard members.
“They came here from all 54 states and territories, leaving behind jobs, homes and families, to bolster security at the Capitol in the wake of the dramatic events on January 6th. Many of them volunteered for this duty, and most of them did so on little notice. In good weather and bad — sometimes cold and wet and tired — they provided critical capability to the Capitol Police and local authorities,” he said.
‘These airmen and soldiers protected not only the grounds, but the lawmakers working on those grounds, ensuring the people’s business could continue unabated. They lived out in very tangible ways the oath they took to support and defend the Constitution.”