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HASC leaders call for drawdown of National Guard troops at Capitol

HASC leaders call for drawdown of National Guard troops at Capitol
Members of the National Guard look out from the balcony of U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy D-VT's office while he gave them a tour at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

March 11 (UPI) -- The top ranking members of the House Armed Services Committee asked the Pentagon Thursday to rethink its plan to extend the National Guard presence at the U.S. Capitol.

Representatives Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Mike Rogers, R-Ala., issued a joint statement Thursday calling for a drawdown of National Guard troops in the area.

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"We are deeply troubled by the current level of security around the United States Capitol," said the statement. "More than two months after the January 6 attack, the seat of our nation's democracy remains heavily protected by guardsmen and surrounded by a perimeter fence."

Smith is the chair of the HASC and Rogers its ranking member.

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The statement goes on to say that while there is "no doubt" that some level of National Guard support should remain in the area, "the present security posture is not warranted at this time."

Smith and Rogers also wrote that "we cannot ignore the financial costs" associated with the prolonged deployment and cautioned against the "effects it will soon have on the National Guard's overall readiness."

Earlier this week Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved a request to extend the deployment of National Guard members in the Capitol through late May.

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That announcement followed the release of a national security task force report saying U.S. Capitol Police were "inadequately trained" to deal with January's violent mob attack.

That report argued that a standing military force of National Guard members and military reservists should be stationed in the Capitol on a rotating basis, and Capitol Police made a similar request last week.

The National Guard has maintained an ongoing presence at the U.S. Capitol since January due to ongoing threats, with police warning of a possible attack as recently as last week.

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