It’s time to send our troops home. They’ve been protecting the grounds of the U.S. Capitol long enough. They’ve been doing their duty at an extraordinary time in our country’s history and under extraordinary circumstances.
Now, the National Guard needs to head home.
That’s the vehement message of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) in a new op-ed, as well as the strong opinion of many other Republican officials and American citizens as well. They believe that the National Guard troops who came to Washington, D.C., ahead of the presidential inauguration and after the riots on January 6 have completed their mission—and now must head home.
To keep them at the Capitol any longer is nothing less than political theatre on the part of Democrats, some of these same people believe.
“The National Guard soldiers who deployed to protect the Capitol this month certainly deserve [our] gratitude,” wrote Cotton in an opinion piece for Fox News. “They deployed on short notice, leaving behind their families and jobs.”
He added, “Despite cold weather and uncomfortable conditions, these soldiers did their duty, in the finest traditions of the Guard. Their presence, coupled with tough federal charges against the [January 6] Capitol rioters, deterred any further violence; the presidential inauguration occurred without incident.”
Now, he continued, “with the inauguration complete and threats receding … it’s time, yes, to send home the troops.”
There’s a problem, however. As Cotton also points out, the Guard already has announced plans to send home nearly 15,000 soldiers this week, with some 7,000 staying on duty until this coming weekend. “Yet apparently several thousand will remain,” Cotton wrote in his piece.
He further noted, “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. Thus, I believe the rest of these soldiers should also go home to their families and civilian jobs.”
“The lesson of the Capitol riot,” Cotton explained, “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.”
Many people who have lived in D.C. all their lives say they’ve never seen anything like the vast troop presence over these past few weeks.
In addition to the 26,000 National Guard troops who have toiled at the Capitol, there is new fencing and new razor wire atop much of that fencing surrounding the Capitol grounds.
Cotton also called out those responsible for the security failures at the Capitol on January 6. “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.’”
“With the inauguration behind us, the Capitol should return to normalcy,” Cotton urged.
Cotton added importantly, “Ironically, among the worst threats these troops face is the coronavirus; nearly 200 have tested positive for the virus. The troops will be safer at home, and the Capitol won’t be less safe without them.”
Some governors—including Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida—already recalled their National Guard members back to their home states.
Check out these tweets about the National Guard’s work at the Capitol.
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This article was written by Maureen Mackey. She is a writer, editor, and digital content strategist.