Stefanik: why are troops staying at Capitol?

Stefanik: why are troops staying at Capitol?
National Guard troops reinforce the security zone on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president on Wednesday. (Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWNY) - North country congresswoman Elise Stefanik wants to know why there are plans to leave at least 5,000 National Guard troops at the U.S. Capitol Complex through mid-March.

Citing “recent reporting,” Stefanik and 10 other Republican members of congress have written to John Whitley, Acting Secretary of The Army, to “request a briefing on the threat assessments and all relevant intelligence regarding the U.S. Capitol Complex.”

“Our intention is for the briefing to cover the ongoing threats to the Capitol, justification of the decision for a significant troop presence through mid- March, and plans for troop utilization during the time period.”

There are 13,000 National Guard troops in Washington, but that number is expected to decrease to 7,000 by the end of the week, WTOP radio reported.

5,000 troops will remain in the capitol into March, according to Whitley, the radio station reported.

Whitley said threats in the next couple of weeks involving events that could draw large crowds require thousands of troops.

“Our National Guard men and women are deployed on short notice and pulled away from their families and jobs,” Stefanik and the others wrote in their letter.

“Further, the Guard has endured unprecedented stress on the force in the past year given COVID-19, social unrest, natural disasters, and ongoing overseas requirements.

“The National Guard should be used as an option of absolute last resort. We are seeking clarification and justification on behalf of the National Guard men and women that have kept us safe over the past month and year.”

The National Guard has been involved in controversy since the January 6 storming of the Capitol by insurrectionists. The head of the Washington D.C. National Guard said the Pentagon restricted his authority to move quickly ahead of the riot, a decision which cost valuable time as police tried to restore order on the 6th.

There have also been questions raised about how thousands of National Guard members ended up sheltering in a parking garage, after President Biden was sworn into office.

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