Defense secretary extends National Guard presence in D.C.

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Nearly 2,300 Guard personnel will remain at the Capitol through much of the spring.

The secretary of Defense has approved a request to keep nearly 2,300 National Guard personnel at the U.S. Capitol through much of spring, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved the request from U.S. Capitol Police for continued Guard support through May 23, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The Guard presence will represent “a reduction of nearly 50 percent of the current support force,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in the statement.

National Guard troops have been in Washington since the Jan. 6 riot by a pro-Trump mob.

More than 26,000 Guard personnel were on duty Jan. 20 to support the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman last week asked that the Guard support be extended.

She cited an increase in threats to members of Congress in the first two months of the year.

Security was on high alert Thursday after the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI warned that some domestic extremist groups had discussed actions that day. No attack occurred.

Kirby said the Department of Defense “will work with the U.S. Capitol Police to incrementally reduce the National Guard footprint as conditions allow.”

After the request was granted, the Capitol Police department issued a statement thanking the Department of Defense for its “continued commitment to support our critical mission to protect Congress.”