Top Armed Services Republican backs National Guard quick reaction force for DC

The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee said Monday he would support creating a quick reaction force of National Guardsm...

The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee said Monday he would support creating a quick reaction force of National Guardsmen to respond to emergencies at the Capitol.

The idea of creating a dedicated quick reaction force, potentially composed of either National Guardsmen or law enforcement officers for Washington, D.C., was one of the recommendations made in a security review led by retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Rep. Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersBattle heats up over Pentagon spending plans On The Money: IRS plans to extend tax filing deadline to mid-May | Powell voices cautious optimism | Treasury has sent out 90 million stimulus payments House Republicans vote to support earmarks MORE (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, has previously called for the National Guardsmen deployed to the Capitol after the attack to begin returning home.

While he reiterated that Monday, Rogers also told reporters he would support Honoré’s recommendation for a quick reaction force stationed off the Capitol complex.

“One of the things they would like to see is a rapid response National Guard unit, which I’m fine with being remote from the campus. And I would support that, but that’s about as close as we need as having guardsmen around the Capitol,” Rogers said.

“So I’m going to be anxious to see where they land on this issue with the guardsmen for a more long-term solution,” he added. “I hope it’s with this rapid response force that I just described with a full time, D.C. contingent that is off campus that can be called on when needed, and they can be there in a matter of minutes. But we don’t need them standing around like they are right now toting rifles.”

Thousands of National Guardsmen from around the country flooded into D.C. after supporters of former President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden: Back to the future on immigration, Afghanistan, Iran Juan Williams: Biden flips the script The Memo: Two months in, strong Biden faces steep climbs MORE stormed the Capitol while lawmakers certified President BidenJoe BidenAstraZeneca says COVID-19 vaccine found 79 percent effective in US trial with no safety concerns The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden: Back to the future on immigration, Afghanistan, Iran This week: Senate works to confirm Biden picks ahead of break MORE’s win in the November election.

The deployment was initially meant to bulk up security during Biden’s inauguration, but was then extended to mid-March and has now been extended to May 23.

While the extension keeps troops at the Capitol for another two months, it cuts the number of guardsmen by roughly half to 2,300.

Neither the Pentagon nor Capitol Police have publicly detailed a specific threat warranting an extension through May.

Outer perimeter fencing around the Capitol that was up since Jan. 6 has begun to come down, with acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett saying in a memo last week “there does not exist a known, credible threat against Congress or the Capitol Complex that warrants the temporary security fencing.”

Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman testified late last month that there was intelligence indicating that some militia groups that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 have “stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible” when Biden delivers an as-yet unscheduled joint address to Congress.

But lawmakers in both parties have been increasingly questioning the continued need for the National Guard, highlighting both the stress on the force from the continued deployment and the mounting costs. The National Guard estimates the deployment will cost $521 million.

After the Pentagon approved Capitol Police’s request to extend the Guard deployment, Rogers and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Capitol Police plans to scale back fencing | Flap over Tucker Carlson’s comments on women in military continues | US attempts to restart North Korea talks Pentagon takes heat for extending Guard’s time at Capitol National Guard mission at Capitol expected to cost 1 million MORE (D-Wash.) called for a “measured drawdown” of troops at the Capitol, saying the level of security at the building is “not warranted at this time.”

“The optics of us having to have razor wire fence and armed service members protecting our Capitol from the public is just off-putting for me, and unnecessary,” Rogers added in Monday’s virtual roundtable with reporters. “Again, we’ve gotten the classified briefings, there is no credible threat.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Top Armed Services Republican backs National Guard quick reaction force for DC
Top Armed Services Republican backs National Guard quick reaction force for DC
Newsrust - US Top News
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