Military leaders hold Pentagon briefing as thousands of soldiers remain in DC


WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Top Army and National Guard officials held a briefing at the Pentagon Monday afternoon.

Acting Army Secretary John Whitley joined Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, and Army Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, commander of the District of Columbia National Guard, in the briefing.

It comes as a fraction of the 25,000 National Guard personnel sent to secure the nation’s capital ahead of the presidential inauguration — and in the wake of the deadly Capitol riots — remain in the city. Roughly 7,000 members from dozens of states are expected to stay in the area through the end of the month, as local law enforcement officials have requested continued assistance.

Meanwhile, the Guard is helping states with the coordination and logistics to return troops home safely.

Last Friday, a U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters that between 150 and 200 National Guard members deployed to D.C. have tested positive for coronavirus.

The National Guard said in a statement that it would not discuss coronavirus cases, but personnel were following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, including temperature checks when they left their home state and arrived in the city, along with a screening questionnaire.

Gen. Hokanson on Monday shared a letter he sent with those who helped in the lead up to and following President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ inauguration.

“Two weeks ago, the first units from outside the District of Columbia arrived to support our Federal partners, after our democracy and Constitutional processes were violently shaken,” wrote Hokanson and Tony Whitehead, senior enlisted advisor of the National Guard Bureau. “In the days since, every Governor and Adjutant General answered the call to help restore peace, order, and security by sending 25,000 National Guard Soliders and Airmen to our Nation’s capital. Our presence helped ensure the peaceful transfer of power to our 46th Commander-in-Chief, just like we did at the first inauguration of George Washington.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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