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Up to 15,000 troops activated to protect Biden inauguration

National Guard military police officers block demonstrators during a protest against the death of George Floyd, near the White House in Washington, D.C., on June 1, 2020. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
January 11, 2021

Up to 15,000 National Guard troops have been authorized to support the Jan. 20 inauguration in Washington D.C. for President-elect Joe Biden, including assisting with security measures for the event.

On Monday, Gen. Daniel Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau said “We have received support requests from the Secret Service, Capitol Police, and Park Police, and have been authorized to provide up to 15,000 Guard members to meet current and future inauguration support requirements.

Hokanson said National Guard troops have thus far been requested to support security, logistics, liaison and communications missions in connection with the inauguration.

The potential to call thousands more National Guard troops to the nation’s capital comes after some 6,200 National Guard troops have already been called into D.C. after demonstrators breached the security at the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday. The Wednesday incident took place as President Donald Trump rallied supporters to D.C. to support challenges to the 2020 U.S. election results.

“The National Guard has a long and proud history of inauguration support and the forefathers of today’s National Guard were present for the Inauguration of George Washington, and we have been part of every inauguration since,” Hokanson said. “As always, our first priority is to protect people and property. The National Guard looks forward to working with our district and federal partners to ensure a peaceful inauguration for President-elect Biden on January 20th.”

The potential call up of 15,000 National Guard troops comes amid criticisms the National Guard was slow to respond to the incident at the Capitol building on Wednesday. On Thursday, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said intelligence about the Wednesday rally gave vastly differing assessments of the crowd sizes to be expected in D.C. and there was less time to estimate the size and intentions of groups of demonstrators than there were with demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in the spring of last year. Only about 340 D.C. National Guard (DCNG) members had been activated in D.C. ahead of the Wednesday incident.

Further complicating the DCNG’s response, those troops who had been activated ahead of the Wednesday incident were entirely unarmed.

DCNG spokesman Senior Master Sgt. Craig Clapper told the Washington Examiner that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser had insisted the guard troops not be armed. Clapper said, “We’ve explicitly been told there is no weaponry of any kind for this mission.”

As calls for National Guard support came from the Capitol on Wednesday, those DCNG troops already activated reportedly had to return to an armory to equip themselves with the riot gear necessary to respond to crowds at the Capitol.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also said his multiple offers to send Maryland National Guard troops to D.C. went unanswered by McCarthy for about an hour and a half on Wednesday.