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Report calls for permanent National Guard units to protect Capitol

By Ed Adamczyk & Don Jacobson
Report calls for permanent National Guard units to protect Capitol
A task force report on Monday called for a permanent security force of National Guard troops, such as those pictured on March 4, available for emergencies at the U.S. Capitol. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
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March 8 (UPI) -- U.S. Capitol Police were "inadequately trained" to deal with the violent mob attack of Jan. 6 and the Capitol needs a permanent, "quick reaction" force to defend it from future violence, a task force report submitted Monday says.

The USCP was "understaffed, insufficiently equipped, and inadequately trained to secure the Capitol and Members (of Congress) when violently attacked by a large mob," and still remains vulnerable, a task force of security experts wrote in a report. The task force was led by retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré and commissioned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the wake of the attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

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The Capitol Police force, they found, "is not postured to track, assess, plan against, or respond to this plethora of threats due to significant capacity shortfalls, inadequate training, immature processes, and an operating culture that is not intelligence-driven."

The 15-page security review by "Task Force 1-6" recommends a standing military force of National Guard members and military reservists on a rotating basis, permitting District of Columbia National Guard leaders to respond directly to requests for aid from the chief of the U.S. Capitol Hill Police without awaiting Defense Department approval.

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Additionally, it calls for better use of portable fencing, an increase in the 2,300-person Capitol Hill Police force by 874 people and immediate filling of 233 police force vacancies.

"Our national capital is a prominent tourist destination, venue for many peaceful First Amendment activities, and a high-value target for foreign terrorists or domestic extremists," the report says. "Yet it has no dedicated quick reaction force for response to crises."

Hundreds of protesters trespassed and vandalized the Capitol building on Jan. 6 in an attempt to stall the presidential certification process.

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At a Congressional hearing last week to analyze the insurrection, Maj. Gen. William Walker, D.C. National Guard commander, testified that he waited for three hours during the attack for Pentagon approval of his troops' deployment.

Eventually, nearly 26,000 National Guard troops were mobilized to provide security after the incident and leading to President Joe Biden's Jan.20 inauguration. About 5,200 troops currently remain in Washington.

The report suggests a three- to six-month deployment of National Guard troops in the capital.

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The recommendation is part of an overarching plan for security of the entire Capitol region by the Department of Homeland Security, body cameras for Capitol Hill police officers, explosives-detecting dogs, additional protection of members of Congress and notably, the use of mounted units, which the police employed until 2005.

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"Best used in high pedestrian and dense crowd areas, a well-trained horse and rider can assist in controlling crowds or quelling disturbances with few serious injuries to demonstrators," the report says.

"They increase mobility, allowing officers to reach a scene more efficiently than on foot or in a vehicle. A rider's elevated position allows them to better assess a crowd and its actions, eliminate or curtail face-to-face confrontations, and provide a calming effect on a crowd in tense situations."

The report's conclusions are likely to spark a partisan debate between Democrats and Republican lawmakers, some of whom have echoed the false claims of the Jan. 6 attackers that Trump's 2020 election defeat was due to widespread voter fraud.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., last month criticized Honoré as an "extreme partisan" due to his criticism of GOP lawmakers' unproven claims of election fraud, while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Sunday cited what he called Honore's "notorious partisan bias."

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