WASHINGTON — After approximately four months with a presence in the District, the National Guard will end its deployment in D.C. on Sunday, May 23.
The 2,149 National Guard troops will return home this week after there were no further requests from the Department of Defense (DoD) to extend the mission supporting the Capitol mission.
"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,” Capt. Chelsi B. Johnson with D.C. National Guard Public Affairs said in a statement to WUSA9.
Previously, the DoD granted U.S. Capitol Police's request to keep National Guard troops around Capitol Hill past the March 12 deadline put in place after the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III approved the request by the U.S. Capitol Police for continued National Guard support through May 23, according to a March 9 news statement from a DoD spokesperson.
The decision to keep troops in the District until May 23 emphasized concerns about the ongoing threat of violence at the Capitol, just four months after rioters breached the building in violence that left five people dead. Law enforcement has continued to remain in a heightened security posture in response to intelligence suggesting previous possible threats to the Capitol by different militia groups.
"The U.S. Capitol Police is extremely grateful for the Department of Defense’s continued commitment to support our critical mission to protect Congress. The National Guard has played a critical role in the Department’s enhanced security posture. We thank the Guard and the Department of Defense for their partnership," said the U.S. Capitol Police in a previous statement to WUSA9.
The Guard's deployment to the Capitol has been troubled. Early on, Guard members were briefly forced to take rest breaks and meals in a nearby cold garage, sparking outrage within the Biden administration. Officials quickly found new spaces within Congressional buildings for the on-duty breaks.
in addition, Guard members complained of bad food, including some who said they became sick.
Back on March 8, Chief Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that about 50 Guard troops had been treated for gastrointestinal issues, out of the 26,000 that deployed to Washington. He said six sought outpatient medical treatment, while the rest were treated at aid stations set up for the Capitol Hill mission.
Kirby said that Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, visited the troops several times a week and ate with them to ensure that they were getting good food.
U.S. military officials have said the cost of deploying about 26,000 Guard troops to the U.S. Capitol from shortly after the Jan. 6 riot was close to $500 million. There was no cost estimate released for the rest of the troops' duration in D.C.
The costs include housing, transportation, salaries, benefits and other essentials.