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Ending Mission on Capitol Hill, Guard Personnel Prepare to Go Home

May 24, 2021 | BY C. Todd Lopez , DOD News

For the nearly 1,000 National Guardsmen who have remained in Washington, D.C., and who have been providing security assistance to the Capitol Police for the last five months, it's now time for the mission to end and to return home.

A man in a military uniform, wearing a face mask, stands with a rifle. The Capitol is in the background.
National Guard
Army Pfc. Aaron Little, an infantryman with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 42nd Infantry Division, New York National Guard, stands guard in front of The Capitol in the early morning hours, Washington, D.C., Feb. 13, 2021.
Photo By: Army Sgt. 1st Class Warren W. Wright Jr.
VIRIN: 210213-Z-HG995-1029M
Four individuals in military uniforms stand with shields in front of a large statue.
National Guard
Massachusetts Army and Air National Guardsmen pose for a photo in the Capitol building, Washington, D.C., April 27, 2021.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Hanna Smith, Air National Guard
VIRIN: 210427-Z-PB060-2023

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III thanked the service members in a statement released today.

"They came here from all 54 states and territories, leaving behind jobs, homes and families, to bolster security at the Capitol in the wake of the dramatic events on January 6th," Austin said. "Many of them volunteered for this duty, and most of them did so on little notice. In good weather and bad — sometimes cold and wet and tired — they provided critical capability to the Capitol Police and local authorities."

While about 1,000 personnel still remain in Washington, D.C., said Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby during a briefing today at the Pentagon, their primary mission now is to prepare to leave.

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"[It's] truly extraordinary work, oftentimes in pretty extreme and nasty weather," he said. "But they chipped in and performed an invaluable service and it was important for the secretary to say thank you to them as they now begin to transition out of the area."

According to Kirby, there are no plans for the National Guard to leave behind a "quick reaction force" in Washington, nor is there a plan to leave behind any kind of military equipment either.

"I'm not aware of any residual equipment that's going to be left behind," he said. "Remember, most of these soldiers were essentially acting as physical and barrier sentries."

Soldiers stand in lines to approach a person with a computer.
National Guard
Soldiers with the Hawaii National Guard out-process at the D.C. Armory prior to their anticipated mission end, Washington, D.C., May 20, 2021.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Andrew Enriquez, Army National Guard
VIRIN: 210520-Z-EZ983-2001
Three men in military uniforms and one man in a police uniform stand near each other in front of the U.S. Capitol.
Defending the Capitol
Army National Guardsmen Sgt. Gio Carter, Sgt. Aaron Hampton and Pvt. Cody Harrison provide security with U.S. Capitol Police officer Mitchell Dunay, near Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 3, 2021.
Photo By: Army Capt. Joe Legros, Maryland Army National Guard
VIRIN: 210203-Z-SD031-5001

Additionally, Kirby said, right now he's not aware of any additional requests by the Capitol Police for residual capabilities from the National Guard.

"As these troops depart for home and a much-deserved reunion with loved ones, I hope they do so knowing how much the nation appreciates their service and sacrifice — and that of their families and employers," Austin said. "I hope they know how very proud we are of them."