Republican Senator Tom Cotton said Wednesday there is no justifiable reason why thousands of National Guard members were ordered to remain in Washington, D.C. until mid-March as Republican lawmakers step up demands for their troops to return home.
‘With the inauguration complete and threats receding, now it’s time, yes, to send home the troops,’ Cotton, a retired Army captain, wrote in an op/ed published to Fox News.
‘I sit on the Intelligence Committee, but I’m aware of no specific, credible threat reporting—as distinguished from aspirational, uncoordinated bluster on the internet—that justifies this continued troop presence,’ Cotton continued.
‘Thus, I believe the rest of these soldiers should also go home to their families and civilian jobs.’
His public opposition to the continued military presence in the nation’s capital comes as Republican governors and lawmakers say it’s time for the troops to return to their respective states.
A letter from 11 GOP congressmen and women on Wednesday demands a briefing from Acting Secretary of the Army John Whitley on any intelligence leading to the decision to keep 5,000 National Guards members in Washington for at least another month-and-a-half.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton, a retired Army Captain and member of the Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday there is ‘no specific, credible threat’ to justify the continued military presence in Washington D.C.
Reports over the weekend revealed at least 5,000 National Guard troops will remain in the nation’s capital until mid-March
Cotton’s comments come as a group of 11 Republican representatives penned a letter demanding a briefing on any prevailing threats and justification for troops remaining in D.C.
‘Our intention is for the briefing to cover the ongoing threats to the Capitol, justification for the decision for a significant troop presence through mid-March, and plans for troop utilization during that period,’ the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
The letter to Whitley and Chairman of the National Guard Bureau Daniel Hokanson was penned and signed by Representatives Michael Waltz of Florida, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel; William Timmons of South Carolina; Greg Murphy of North Carolina; Elise Stefanik of New York; Chris Stewart of Utah; Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio; Lance Gooden and Chip Roy of Texas; Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota; Dusty Johnson of South Dakota; and Russ Fulcher of Idaho.
Cotton claimed that the Capitol storming on January 6, which left five dead and delayed certifying the election for Joe Biden by six hours, was the result of inadequate standing protocol and protection.
‘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,’ Cotton wrote. ‘The senior leaders of the Capitol security forces failed to do so in the days leading up to January 6.’
‘Despite threats of violence on social media, the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms rejected a request for National Guard backup in the days before the riot,’ he continued.
Cotton said no such persistent threat is present now.
‘Rather than drawing the right lesson from these failures—that security measures should be calibrated to actual threats—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Capitol Hill security overreacted, egged on by excitable cable news pundits and Democratic partisans eager to portray President Donald Trump’s 74 million voters as ‘domestic terrorists,’ he penned.
‘Virtually overnight, the Capitol and National Mall transformed into a so-called ‘Green Zone’ protected by no-scale fencing, razor wire, and 26,000 soldiers,’ Cotton claimed. ‘These security measures were plainly disproportionate to the threat—indeed, they would have been disproportionate even if another violent mob had in fact attempted to disrupt the inauguration.’
‘With the inauguration behind us, the Capitol should return to normalcy.’
Following the attack earlier this month, more than 26,000 National Guardsmen and women were deployed to Washington to protect the Capitol and patrol the streets in the days surrounding Biden’s inauguration.
After the swearing-in on January 20, which was largely virtual and included no security threats or breaches, there was a mass exodus of troops with more than half that force returning back to their respective states to resume civilian life.
Ahead of inauguration, more than 26,000 troops were deployed to Washington, D.C. after the January 6 Capitol storming that left five dead and forced Congress into lockdown in the middle of certifying the election for Joe Biden
The day after inauguration, there was a mass exodus of troops from D.C. with more than half returning to their respective states – as Republican governors demanded they be sent home
Reports over the weekend, however, revealed that at least 5,000 troops will remain in Washington, D.C. until mid-March to maintain a military presence.
‘As we continue to work to meet the final post-inauguration requirements, the National Guard has been requested to continue supporting federal law enforcement agencies with 7,000 members and will draw down to 5,000 through mid-March,’ National Guard Bureau spokesperson Major Matt Murphy revealed on Saturday.
He continued: ‘We are providing assistance such as security, communications, medical evacuation, logistics, and safety support to state, district, and federal agencies.’
A D.C. homeland security official, Christopher Rodfriguez, claimed over the weekend there are still threats that require a military presence in the district.
‘[W]e do anticipate that there will be another National Special Security Event occurring in the joint session of Congress,’ he said.
As thousands were sent home on Thursday, the bureau said: ‘Some agencies are requesting continuity of operations, additional support, and recuperation time for their forces to regroup. Approximately 7,000 National Guard personnel are anticipated to provide that assistance through the end of the month.’
Governors have also lashed out at their troops remaining deployed to the Capitol for several more weeks.
Since Inauguration, Republican Governors Chris Sununu from New Hampshire; Ron DeSantis from Florida; Greg Gianforte of Montana; and Greg Abbott of Texas all announced they are bringing their troops home from Washington.
‘I’ve ordered the immediate return of all New Hampshire National Guard from Washington D.C.,’ Sununu said in a tweet. ‘They did an outstanding job serving our nation’s capital in a time of strife and should be graciously praised, not subject to substandard conditions.’
Abbott said on Twitter on Thursday: ‘I have instructed General Norris to order the return of the Texas National Guard to our state.’
DeSantis said in a tweet Friday night: ‘Last night, I ordered our Adjutant General to bring Florida National Guard soldiers home from the National Capital Region.’
The Florida governor has echoed the disenchantment of other state leaders with how the FBI vetted all troops brought into Washington, which resulted in at least 12 being removed.
He told ‘Fox & Friends’ it was time for troops to leave the ‘half-cocked mission.’
Legislators expressed outrage earlier in the week with how their reservists were being treated while deployed in the nation’s capital.
Pictures emerged early on showing members sleeping on the floors of Congress and more recently it was revealed they were now ordered to spend their time resting in the middle of 12 hour shifts in a parking garage.