National Guard Plans 5,000 Troops in Washington Until Mid-March

The National Guard will keep 5,000 troops in Washington until at least mid-March at the request of U.S. Capitol Police amid continuing security threats following violent protests earlier this month by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.

Troop levels will be drawn down from 7,000 currently and a peak of about 25,000 in the days following the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol, officials including acting Army Secretary John Whitley told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday.

Some of the forces being drawn down have been assisting the Secret Service and Park Police, Whitley said at a news conference alongside Army General Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, and Major General William Walker, commander of the District of Colombia National Guard.

The residual force underscores the continuing risk officials see in the nation’s capital following the violent protests, which led to at least five deaths and interrupted for a few hours Congress’s validation of the Electoral College tally formally recognizing President Joe Biden’s victory.

The security concerns include several potential protests around the Capitol in coming weeks that could be “used by malicious actors,” Whitley said. The Army secretary declined to provide further details of the threats, deferring questions to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

As the National Guard force continues to bolster security in and around the Capitol, it is also battling an outbreak of Covid-19. The number of infections has climbed to about 200, a level Walker said he was “deeply concerned” about. He said deployed troops followed Centers for Disease Control guidance on preventing spread and that they have now received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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