The National Guard could stay in Washington, D.C. for the next several months, with an internal email indicating troops could be on the ground in the U.S. capital until Fall 2021, according to a recent report.
An internal communication obtained by local affiliate FOX 5 DC shows the National Security Council has asked the Department of Defense (DoD) to coordinate plans with the U.S. Capitol Police for continued deployment beyond the previously set March date.
Senior defense officials told Fox New’s Jennifer Griffin on Monday the email was part of "internal deliberations" and "no decisions have been made."
Thousands of National Guards troops were scheduled to remain in Washington, D.C. through mid-March, Fox News previously reported. A National Guard spokesperson representing the whole agency told Fox News Monday there were still approximately 6,000 members on duty in D.C.
In the internal email, Robert Salesses, DoD's assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, reportedly wrote:
"If it’s not possible to sustain at the current level with [National Guard] personnel, we need to establish the number of [National Guard] personnel ([D.C. National Guard] and out-of-state) we can sustain for an extended period – at least through Fall 2021 – and understand additional options for providing DoD support, to include use of reserve personnel, as well as active component."
According to FOX 5, the law enforcement agencies will convene on Wednesday to discuss the matter further.
Spokespersons for the U.S. Capitol Police and D.C. National Guard (DCNG) did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request seeking comment on Monday.
A DCNG rep told FOX 5 the National Guard "is conducting prudent planning for the eventual end of the security mission and the return of its Soldiers and Airmen to their home stations."
Officials have estimated the total cost for the National Guard deployment in D.C. to be nearly $450 million.
At the high point just before the inauguration, there were more than 26,000 Guard troops in the city, and they came from the 50 states and U.S. territories. A number of states ordered home their service members shortly after the Jan. 20 inauguration when troops complained of poor food and were forced to take their rest breaks in a Capitol Hill garage. Those conditions were said to have been quickly improved.
Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press.