(FiveNation.com)- After standing guard for roughly four months, members of the National Guard will finally depart the U.S. Capitol complex this week.
There were still 2,149 troops from the National Guard that were stationed around the Capitol complex and other areas of Washington, D.C., as of this week. They were initially called to the city following the attacks on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6.
This week, though, all of those troops will be returned back to their home bases. That action will be taken after the Department of Defense didn’t request the National Guard to extend their mission to protect Washington, D.C. That decision would’ve needed to be made over the weekend.
Now, according to a spokesperson for the D.C. National Guard, all operations will “return to normal.”
Captain Chelsi B. Johnson, who works for the D.C. National Guard Public Affairs, issued a statement that said:
“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.”
Back in March, Lloyd Austin, the Defense Secretary, approved keeping almost 2,300 troops of the National Guard in Washington, D.C., through May 23. With that decision, he extended the initial assignment for two months after it was supposed to originally end.
At the time, the 2,300 troops represented less than half of the total number of troops who were stationed at the Capitol in the first two months following the attack.
In a statement at the time of the decision, John Kirby, the press secretary for the Pentagon, said:
“This decision was made after a thorough review of the request and after close consideration of its potential impact on readiness. [The extension was made to] help bolster and support the Capitol Police and their capabilities, which may not be at the level where it needs to be given the fact that we’re in sort of a new environment in this country.”
The troops from the National Guard were originally called to Washington, D.C., to help security the inauguration of President Joe Biden. However, they remained in the city to help keep it secure in the following four months.
The decisions to extend the deployment concerned a lot of lawmakers — as well as residents of and visitors to the city — about whether there would be a permanent security presence in the nation’s capital. A review of security at the Capitol complex recommended various changes be made, and many worried that the Capitol would look more like a fortress than a place of creating and debating legislation.
The Capitol Police requested the additional help that the National Guard was providing, but they weren’t giving lawmakers details on what threats they were apparently under. That never changed in the time the Guardsmen served in the capital, but apparently the threats must be gone if the Department of Defense says it doesn’t need them anymore.