More than 5,000 National Guard troops will remain in Washington, D.C. through mid-March amid security concerns, acting Secretary of the Army John Whitley said.
“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,” Xinhua news agency quoted Whitley as saying at a press briefing on Monday.
About 7,000 Guardsmen from the D.C. National Guard and various states will stay for the next few days to provide support to local and federal law enforcement, drawing down to roughly 5,000 by the start of February, according to Whitley.
Those 5,000 will then stay on until around the completion of Former President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, set to begin February 8.
Whitley added that the Pentagon received four requests for the Guard to remain and provide assistance to the US Park Police, US Secret Service, Capitol Police and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) amid fears of threats to officials and the American capital city in the wake of the deadly Capitol riots on January 6.
“We are briefed on a very regular basis about those and we are posturing our forces to be able to respond to those threats if they emerge,” he said.
There are currently 15,000 troops in the US capital.
As many as 25,000 National Guard troops were deployed in Washington, D.C. through President Joe Biden’s inauguration following the violent riots.
Among them some 200 National Guard troops have tested positive for Covid-19 while on duty, Major General William J. Walker, head of the D.C. National Guard, said on Monday.