Why Is The Guard Still in D.C.: Pentagon Finally Talks About the 'Threat,' That Only Raises More Questions

AP Photo/John Minchillo

We’ve been closely following the story of why the National Guard has been staying in Washington, D.C. past the events which authorities were alleging that could be problematic, like the inauguration and the impeachment trial. Now those are over and the Guard was still there with reports that they could be staying through the fall.

So why weren’t we or at least members of Congress or governors who provided Guard units being told what gives? What’s the alleged threat that is keeping them there?

Members of Congress finally heard from Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense & Global Security Robert Salesses. It was an internal email allegedly from Salesses which sparked further concerns because he spoke of keeping the Guard there until “at least” the fall in the email.

But when questioned by the Congress on Wednesday in response to a possible future threat such as on March 4, Salesses said that while the question of threats was an evolving one on which they worked with law enforcement, “At this time, I’m not aware of a threat that is out there.” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told Fox’s Neil Cavuto earlier this week, “Things are safe and secure right now.”

Salesses also told CNN that they were not tracking any specific threats.

“While there is no specific, credible threat to the homeland at this time, DHS continues to gather, review, and analyze new intelligence each day and regularly updates its federal, state, local, tribal, and non-governmental partners on the results of those efforts.

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) agreed that the threat was low.

Oh. We’ve spent over $480 million on this as of Feb. 4 (so it’s actually far more now) but they can’t point to a specific threat now? So why are the 6000 still there and why did Salesses write an internal email about keeping them there through at least September? There are always going to be random things floating around of people spouting off on the internet, that doesn’t necessarily translate to an actual threat. Moreover you can provide for dealing with any threat without keeping a standing force in the city. Meanwhile keeping the Guard in D.C. around the clock is exacting a toll on them, according to reports of overwork, low morale and increased injuries, both physical and mental.

Officially, the Guard is still supposed to be there through March 4.

According to Fox sources, a small group is expected to remain indefinitely, to serve as a reactionary force to be able to respond quickly to any threat. What “small” is isn’t clear. 6000 isn’t small, if that’s what anyone is thinking. “It’s naive to think that in the middle of March [the Guard troops] go away,” one of the sources said to Fox.

Questions have also been raised about the barbed wire fencing and when that will be taken down. According to the source, the outer perimeter fencing will likely come down in the next month or two. But that the fencing around the immediate Capitol grounds will stay up until they can reconfigure their overall security plan. They’re debating a fence that can be “raised or lowered at a moment’s notice.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing for a bill to cover a lot of new security. She apparently suddenly believes in walls for her own protection, just not for Americans, particularly on the southern border.