The 2,419 National Guard troops who remained in Washington, D.C., to defend the U.S. Capitol after the Jan. 6 insurrection began leaving on Sunday. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
May 24 (UPI) -- National Guard troops protecting the U.S. Capitol will end their nearly four-month deployment this week, Pentagon officials said.
Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who led a review of security failures after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, said in a televised interview on Sunday that troops deployed to protect the complex would begin leaving immediately.
Honore cited the accomplishment of their mission, as well as the Pentagon's May 23 deadline to end the deployment.
"They've hit that magic date, and they're going home. And the Capitol is secure, based on the mission that the Capitol Police have now, which is secure the Capitol," Honore said.
About 25,000 National Guard troops were rotated through the Capitol in the past 137 days. A March 12 deadline to remove all troops was extended by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to May 23.
"There are, as of today, 2,149 Guardsmen currently in the D.C. area for that mission," Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a May 19 briefing. "The operations are expected to wrap up on Sunday, May 23, and we have received no request to extend it."
The extension of the deadline to May 23 emphasized concerns of an ongoing threat of violence at the Capitol, which was overtaken by rioters on Jan. 6, the day Congress validated the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Five people died in the violence, and the Department of Justice is pursuing and arresting those allegedly involved in the insurrection.
A statement by Austin on Monday thanked the troops for "standing watch over the Capitol grounds."
"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.
"In good weather and bad -- sometimes cold and wet and tired -- they provided critical capability to the Capitol Police and local authorities," he said.
Last week the House of Representatives approved, by a 213-212 vote, a $1.9 billion security upgrade for the U.S. Capitol in response to the attack.
In addition to upgrading security, the funding would cover costs associated with damage caused by the incident, during which rioters broke into the Capitol, vandalized its interior and ransacked Congressional offices.
Supporters of President Donald Trump riot against the Electoral College vote count on January 6, 2021, in protest of Trump's loss to President-elect Joe Biden, prompting a lockdown of the Capitol Building. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo