Members of the National Guard watch a checkpoint on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Armed US National Guard troops patrolled the US Capitol on March 4 after officials warned of a new attack plot by extremists, but the feared show of force by those still …

Source: Kristina Wong

The Pentagon Tuesday evening announced Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s approval of a request by U.S. Capitol Police for a two-month extension of National Guard troops through May 23.

The number of troops will be reduced, however, from approximately 5,000 to 2,300 between mid-March and late-May.

‘Nearly 2,300 National Guard personnel will continue the support mission. This represents a reduction of nearly 50 percent of the current support force. This decision was made after a thorough review of the request and after close consideration of its potential impact on readiness,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

His statement added the number would reduce further “as conditions allow.”

“During this extended period, DoD officials will work with the U.S. Capitol Police to incrementally reduce the National Guard footprint as conditions allow. We thank the National Guard for its support throughout this mission, as well as for its significant efforts across the nation in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Republicans — and even some Democrats — have questioned the need for National Guard troops without any “credible threat.”

U.S. Capitol Police first requested National Guard assistance after they were overwhelmed by pro-Trump protesters at the Capitol on January 6. The Pentagon initially approved 7,000, increasing to 26,000 for Inauguration Day on January 20. The numbers reduced to about 5,000 by March 12 when the mission was originally slated to end. The cost to U.S. taxpayers is $483 million so far.

A task force commissioned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) recommended maintaining a permanent quick reaction force to deploy to the Capitol.

Democrats have used the January 6 protest to claim that Trump supporters are white supremacist domestic terrorists. However, the majority of Trump supporters in D.C. on January 6 did not commit violations at the Capitol.

Out of approximately 25,000 present for then-President Donald Trump’s speech at the White House, only several hundred have been arrested for violations which include charges of trespassing.