NATIONAL Guard troops numbering roughly 5,000 are expected to stay at the Capitol through at least March – as First Lady Jill Biden expressed appreciation by giving them cookies.
Those Guardsmen will remain amid lingering threats of "right-wing extremism" after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, although no violent incidents occurred on Inauguration Day.
The 5,000 troops will be stationed in Washington, DC, through mid-March, the National Guard told a WUSA reporter on Friday.
Local law enforcement officials had requested that about 7,000 members continue to assist them, a National Guard official told Military.com the same day.
Guard members who stay past the original 31-day mobilization order will do so voluntarily and receive orders with new time frames, Guard Bureau spokesman Nahaku McFadden told Military.com.
"We are not going to make anybody stay," McFadden said.
The extended stay for some Guardsmen came as reports emerged that hundreds of members tested positive for Covid-19 and struggled to contain the spread.
“We did not get Covid tests on arrival,” a Guard member told Politico reported on Friday.
“Right after the holidays they packed us together like sardines in buses and rooms for this."
About 25,600 Guard members from across the country were deployed to the capital over the past two weeks after thousands of MAGA fans stormed the Capitol to try to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s victory.
On Thursday, Homeland Security Director Chris Rodriguez said that the "threat of right-wing extremism is here" and would be a "persistent threat" at the capital for the near future, according to The Daily Mail.
Meanwhile, National Guard officials on Thursday announced that about 15,000 Air and Army troops would start making their way home to their respective states this weekend.
First Lady Jill Biden in her first solo appearance on Friday joined Guardsmen outside the Capitol and thanked them verbally and by handing out chocolate chip cookies.
“I just wanted to come today to say thank you to all of you for keeping me and my family safe,” she said.
She added that the president’s late son Beau Biden served on the Delaware National Guard, making the Bidens a National Guard family.
“I'm a National Guard mom,” the First Lady said.
“The National Guard will always hold a special place in the hearts of all the Bidens.”
Most of the Guardsmen are heading home after images emerged showing about 5,000 troops sleeping on the floor of the Thurgood Marshall Building parking garage on Thursday night as temperatures dropped down to 40 degrees.
Republican Senator Jim Inhofe said a police officer appeared to be to blame.
“There was one uniformed police officer who issued an order without authority or without going through the chain of command,” Inhofe said on Friday.
“We are going to be able to identify who that person was.”
Guardsmen were allowed to return to the Capitol after outrage over the matter.
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