Several planned protests in Washington DC will keep the National Guard in the nation’s capital at least into March, US Army officials said.
At least 5,000 of the 25,000 troops deployed to the city are to remain on duty — even as the size of the force continues to be drawn down.
But Acting Army Secretary John Whitley said at a briefing Monday that FBI warnings about potential unrest in the coming weeks will require a Guard presence in the capital.
“What I can tell you in terms of what they’re briefing us is there are several upcoming events — we don’t know what they are — over the next several weeks, and they’re concerned that there could be situations where there are lawful protests, First Amendment-protected protests, that could either be used by malicious actors or other problems that could emerge,” he said.
“We are posturing our forces to be able to respond to those threats if they emerge.”
On Jan. 6, thousands of National Guard troops were dispatched to DC after supporters of Former President Trump stormed the Capitol building to stop Congressional certification of the presidential election results.
Five died in the riot, including a police officer.
US Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, head of the National Guard Bureau, said that about 13,000 guard members remain in DC as of Monday — but will continue to be cut.
“As requested by the federal agencies we are supporting, we’re drawing down to 7,000 soldiers and airmen by the end of this week and that number will decrease based on the support requested from our federal partners,” Hokanson said.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that New York state, which had deployed about 1,300 National Guard troops to the capital after the siege, would send an additional 542 troops to DC to help bolster the remaining security force.
The Empire State soldiers previously deployed will be heading home this week, the governor’s office said in a statement.
Major Gen. William Walker, commander of the DC National Guard, also said that officials were not briefed on the possible security threats that prompted 12 members of the guard to be sent home before the inauguration.
“The FBI said that 12 — they didn’t tells us why, they just said that 12 were questionable,” Walker said at the briefing. “And we’re not taking any chances. We’re not accepting any risks. We sent those guardsmen back to their home states.”
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