Armed National Guard will remain in DC for weeks

It will be weeks before members of the National Guard are no longer securing D.C.

There are still 13,000 National Guard troops in the District, but that will be decreased to 7,000 by the end of this week, according to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson. Those members who remain will assist specific agencies with security for two weeks.

Some 5,000 troops will likely remain in D.C. into the month of March, Hokanson said during a Department of Defense news conference Monday.

Four agencies have requested the National Guard to provide support, and all those requests have been approved, allocating 600 troops to assist the U.S. Secret Service and 550 to help D.C. police, Acting Army Secretary John E. Whitley said.

Another 500 troops will support Park Police, and Whitley said 5,000 will support the U.S. Capitol Police.

“Support to D.C. police and U.S. Park Police will continue through the end of January and the first week of February respectively,” Whitley said.

Whitley said the need for the thousands of guards at the Capitol is due to potential threats flagged by the FBI around events taking place in the next two weeks that could draw large crowds. He did not elaborate on what those threats entail.

“So we have an adequate number of guardsman armed … we are relying on the intelligence from our federal partners, and if there needs to be a shift in our security posture, they will let us know and we will adjust accordingly,” said Commanding General of the D.C. National Guard, William J. Walker.

Walker also said that the health of one-tenth of the 25,000 guardsmen serving at the Capitol during the inauguration was compromised. As of last weekend, some 150 National Guardsmen have tested positive for the coronavirus since responding to the deadly attack on the Capitol earlier this month, officials told CBS News.

“I’m deeply troubled by the number. We’re almost at 200 right now. What happens is, we follow CDC guidelines … Once we send a soldier or airman for a test, and they come up positive, they are quarantined and they remain here until they are cleared to come back to their state,” Walker said.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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