Barriers are going down, but National Guard will remain in DC through the current session of Congress.
WASHINGTON, DC – The District isn’t back to normal yet, but it’s heading that way. Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser outlined the area’s security situation and COVID-19 vaccine plan in a wide-ranging press conference Thursday. She thanked those in the city and beyond for making the inaugural proceedings flow smoothly and safely.
“Now that the inauguration is over, the work of the new administration is just beginning. You have seen road openings already beginning in the areas around the Mall and downtown that were closed,” Bowser said. “Yesterday evening, crews began removing barriers and fencing on major streets and opening the garages that were blocked.”
Bowser said that the process would take approximately another 36 hours.
The mayor also noted that the National Guard will disperse in waves. Christopher Rodriguez, director of D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, explained that the first of those waves started Thursday. That doesn’t mean all of those from Virginia and Maryland are immediately going home. Rodriguez said a National Guard presence will remain in the District throughout this current session of Congress.
Figuring Out Transport Logistics
The big question is how do you get everyone home? Guard officials told Dogwood more than 26,000 troops supported the presidential inauguration Wednesday, with zero incidents reported. Then they switched gears, to help law enforcement.
“We will continue to support federal law enforcement as requested,” said Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard, in a statement. “Our Guard members will return home as soon as conditions permit.”
Hokanson said he and his team are working to get Guard members back home. It just might take a minute. Units from all 50 states arrived to support President Joe Biden and now return flights have to be coordinated in some cases.
“Our ability to move 26,000 Soldiers and Airmen to DC from every state and territory in less than two weeks would not have been possible without the support of our governors and their adjutants general,” said Hokanson. “It speaks volumes about America’s investment in the National Guard; and most importantly, the support our service members get from their family and their employers.”
Hokanson also thanked local residents, including those in the District, for supporting Guard troops during their stay.
“The outpouring of support to our National Guard across the entire country, and here in the District of Columbia, is a story in itself. I want to particularly thank the citizens of the District of Columbia,” said Hokanson.
Amie Knowles is a staff reporter for Dogwood. You can reach her at [email protected].