Military Reviewing Request to Keep Guard Troops in DC Another 2 Months

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U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general, Michigan National Guard.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general, Michigan National Guard, meets with soldiers from the Michigan National Guard in Washington, D.C., Feb. 17, 2021. (U.S. Army National Guard/2nd Lt. Ashley Goodwin)

The Pentagon is considering a request from the U.S. Capitol Police to extend the deployment of roughly 5,000 National Guard troops in Washington, D.C., until May.

The Associated Press reported that Capitol Police made the request a day after the agency announced it had uncovered a plot by a militia group to attack the U.S. Capitol complex on Thursday, two months after a violent mob breached the building as Congress was certifying now-President Joe Biden's victory.

"The Department of Defense has received a request for continued support from the U.S. Capitol Police and is currently reviewing that request," a Pentagon official said in a statement to Military.com.

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The threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, promoted primarily by QAnon supporters, that former President Donald Trump will rise again to power on March 4. That date originally served as the presidential inauguration day until 1933, when the ceremony was moved to Jan. 20, the AP reported.

National Guard officials remained tight-lipped Thursday, releasing few details about how the 5,200 Guard members supporting the Capitol Police are involved in responding to the latest security threat.

"We won't discuss the specifics of how we're performing the mission, intelligence sharing or the content of internal communications, but we can say that we are in continual contact with our partner agencies," Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Carver, a Virginia Air National Guard spokesman for the Joint Task Force-D.C. Joint Information Center, told Military.com in a statement.

Carver referred all questions about an extension of the Guard's mission to the Pentagon.

"We are continuing our security mission in and around the U.S. Capitol as requested by our federal civilian law enforcement agency partners, and our soldiers and airmen are postured to meet partner requirements," Carver said in the statement.

Online chatter identified by authorities included discussions among members of the Three Percenters, an anti-government militia group, concerning possible plots against the Capitol on Thursday, according to two law enforcement officials who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, the AP reported. Members of the Three Percenters were among the extremists who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The Capitol Police have made "significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers," it announced Wednesday in a news release.

The increased security announcement came on the same day D.C. Guard Commander Maj. Gen. William Walker told members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs that he could have begun sending Guard members to support D.C. law enforcement, under siege by a rioting crowd, hours earlier on Jan. 6, but was hampered by a strict Pentagon approval process, indecisive leadership and delayed communications.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

Related: Guard General Blames Pentagon Restrictions for Delayed Military Response to Capitol Riot

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