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Price tag of ongoing National Guard presence in D.C. up to $500 million: report

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The deployment of National Guard troops in the nation’s capital through mid-March is costing roughly $500 million, The Hill reported Thursday evening.

This price tag, a defense official confirmed to the publication, surpasses the at least $480 million that Bloomberg first reported Thursday afternoon.

The defense official did not have a more detailed breakdown of the costs, according to The Hill, with the costs not including those taken on by the city.

Following a violent mob storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6, roughly 26,000 National Guardsmen from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three territories flooded the city and established high-security zones around vital locations in the heart of D.C.

Fearing similar attacks on or surrounding the date of President Joe Biden‘s January 20 inauguration, such zones included the Capitol Complex, National Mall, and massive swaths of downtown D.C. with armed guards, barricades, and razor-tipped fences.

RELATED: Up to 25,000 National Guard troops to be in D.C. on Inauguration Day

However, around 5,000 troops are set to remain stationed at the Capitol until at least the middle of next month, at the request of Capitol Police and in accordance with a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) bulletin warning that after inauguration the threats still linger.

“Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin reads.

The Pentagon, it should be noted, has not gone into detail about the specific threats which spurred them to rubber-stamp the request.

One of the upcoming events in D.C. that people believe could be subject to threats is former President Donald Trump‘s Senate impeachment trial, which is set to commence on Tuesday. According to The Hill, believers of the QAnon conspiracy theory are falsely claiming that Trump will be sworn in again on March 4, the original date of presidential inaugurations before the 20th Amendment in 1933 shifted it to January 20.

However, some Republican politicians have expressed scrutiny over the ongoing presence of troops in D.C.

“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,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) wrote in a Fox News opinion piece last week. “Thus, I believe the rest of these soldiers should also go home to their families and civilian jobs.”

After 11 Republicans headed by Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) last week penned a letter to acting Army Secretary John Whitley asking for a briefing regarding intelligence on threats to the Capitol Complex, Whitley and Waltz spoke on the phone Tuesday. However, the phone call did not satisfy Waltz.

“I appreciate the call from Secretary Whitley and believe the Army must push Congress and the FBI for more clarity as what specific threat requires the Army to have a larger presence on Capitol Hill than we have in Afghanistan and Iraq combined,” Waltz said in a statement afterward.

“In the past year, COVID-19, social unrest, natural disasters and war zone requirements have repeatedly pulled the Guard from their jobs and families, causing tremendous stress on the force,” he said. “Lawmakers continue to be left in the dark on actual threat assessments and a long-term strategy. I hope we will have a briefing for lawmakers scheduled in the near future.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Trump: Tanks to Ukraine could escalate to use of ‘NUKES’

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Former President Donald Trump stated bluntly on Truth Social,  “FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do!”

Trump was referring to the escalation of war in Ukraine. He, like many other commentators and lawmakers, are warning that the decision to continue sending weapons – and now tanks – could potentially lead to the use of “nuclear weapons.”

It’s mission creep and it’s dangerous, they say.

Why? Because Russian President Valdimir Putin has indicated in two different speeches that he would use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, if needed. Those warnings are not just bluster but a very real possibility.

And the escalation of war is visible.

Russia launched 55 missiles strikes across Ukraine Thursday, leaving 11 dead. The strikes come one day after the United States and Germany agreed to send tanks to Ukraine in an effort to aide the country. 47 of the 55 missiles were shot down according to Ukraine’s Air Force command.

Eleven lives were lost and another 11 were injured additionally leaving 35 buildings damaged in the wake of the attacks. According to The New York Times, Denys Shmyhal, said in a post on Telegram. “The main goal is energy facilities, providing Ukrainians with light and heat,” he said.

Ukraine is now demanding that they need F-16 fighter jets. In a post on twitter Ukrainian lawmaker, Oleksiy Goncharenko said, “Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.”

The US has abstained from sending advanced jets in the chances that a volatile decision could foster more dangerous attacks like former President Trump’s post on Truth referred to. If the US did authorize the decision to lend Ukraine the F-16 jets Netherlands’ foreign minister, Wopke Hoekstra, would be willing to supply them. According to The New York Times, Hoekstra told Dutch lawmakers, “We are open-minded… There are no taboos.”

F-16 fighter jets are complex to work on, they are not the average aircraft that can be learned in a matter of weeks. It can take months for pilots to learn how to fly these birds. European and US officials have the concern that Ukrainian forces could potentially use the jets to fly into Russian airspace and launch attacks on Russian soil.

Western allies are trying to avoid such a provocation, because that could lead to nuclear warfare in reference to what Putin has said he would do to defend his country.

 

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