Keeping National Guard In DC Since Capitol Riot Has Cost Approximately $438 Million
The deployment of the National Guard in Washington DC since the riots at the US Capitol on January 6 has already cost a staggering $438 million (£319 million).
Almost a month after violent rioters stormed the Capitol, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered all units to ‘stand down’ in the next 60 days.
In January an approximate 26,000 troops were deployed to help secure the inauguration. Approximately 5,000-7,000 troops still remain in the capital.
Austin visited the guards last week to thank them and recognise their commitment.
‘I recognise this is not an easy duty, but it’s an important duty. The lawmakers that work in those buildings behind you there, they’re really, really grateful and happy. They don’t get a chance to tell you that personally every day, but trust me, they tell me that, how grateful they are,’ he said.
A senior defence official told Fox News that the National Guard is expected to ‘remain on orders until March 31,2021’.
The continued presence of the National Guard has been met with some criticism.
‘The lesson of the Capitol riot is not that we should quarter a standing army at the Capitol just in case, but rather that our security measures should be calibrated to the actual threats,’ Senator Tom Cotton wrote in an opinion piece last month.
He argued that senior leaders of the Capitol security forces had failed to fulfil their duties in the days leading up to January 6, despite repeated threats of violence on social media.
Last month, the commander of the DC National Guard told The Washington Post that Pentagon officials had restricted his authorities ahead of the Capitol riots.
Under normal circumstances, commanding general William Walker would be able to make decisions on military action in an emergency.
Walker said the Pentagon had taken that power away from him ahead of the Capitol riots, which meant he could not immediately deploy troops to assist Capitol Police when protestors were set to breach the building.
‘All military commanders normally have immediate response authority to protect property, life, and in my case, federal functions — federal property and life. But in this instance, I did not have that authority,’ he said.
He said that without this delay, DC National Guard could have arrived much sooner, as the headquarters are just two miles from the Capitol.
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