By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (May 24, 2021) -- For the nearly 1,000 National Guardsmen who have remained in Washington, D.C., and who have been providing security assistance to the Capitol Police for the last five months, it's now time for the mission to end and to return home.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III thanked the service members in a statement released today.
"They came here from all 54 states and territories, leaving behind jobs, homes and families, to bolster security at the Capitol in the wake of the dramatic events on January 6th," Austin said. "Many of them volunteered for this duty, and most of them did so on little notice. In good weather and bad -- sometimes cold and wet and tired -- they provided critical capability to the Capitol Police and local authorities."
While about 1,000 personnel still remain in Washington, D.C., said Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby during a briefing today at the Pentagon, their primary mission now is to prepare to leave.
"[It's] truly extraordinary work, oftentimes in pretty extreme and nasty weather," he said. "But they chipped in and performed an invaluable service and it was important for the secretary to say thank you to them as they now begin to transition out of the area."
According to Kirby, there are no plans for the National Guard to leave behind a "quick reaction force" in Washington, nor is there a plan to leave behind any kind of military equipment either.
"I'm not aware of any residual equipment that's going to be left behind," he said. "Remember, most of these soldiers were essentially acting as physical and barrier sentries."
Additionally, Kirby said, right now he's not aware of any additional requests by the Capitol Police for residual capabilities from the National Guard.
"As these troops depart for home and a much-deserved reunion with loved ones, I hope they do so knowing how much the nation appreciates their service and sacrifice -- and that of their families and employers," Austin said. "I hope they know how very proud we are of them."