In the aftermath of last week’s violent storming of the U.S. Capitol building, security measures in Washington, D.C. have been dramatically bolstered ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s upcoming inauguration.
By Jan. 20, reports indicate there will be as many as 15,000 National Guard troops stationed in and around the nation’s capital.
6,000 troops already deployed
According to The New York Times, the precautionary step is meant to head off any possible violence if protests on that day similarly devolve into rioting.
U.S. Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, who serves as the chief of the National Guard Bureau, said about 6,000 troops representing six states were deployed to D.C. as of Monday.
That number is expected to expand to around 10,000 by the weekend with the remainder likely to arrive in the final days before the inauguration event.
Multiple agencies on the local, state, and federal levels will reportedly be contributing to the security detail being coordinated by the U.S. Secret Service.
It remains unclear as of this writing whether those National Guard troops will simply be present and working in a supportive capacity or if they will be armed and equipped with riot gear. That decision will likely be made closer to the event and dependent upon the expected security needs.
“Security, logistics, communications, and liaison”
As the Military Times noted, the anticipated number of troops being deployed to D.C. is roughly twice as many as the combined troop levels currently serving in the perpetual war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Hokanson explained that the troops will be serving in a variety of capacities including “security, logistics, communications, and liaison missions.”
As for whether they would be directly enforcing laws, he said they are “authorized to do law enforcement if that’s requested from the supporting agency” but stressed that it would be “literally … a last resort.”
The Associated Press reported that the FBI had issued a nationwide alert regarding online chatter about massive protests — some of which may involve armed or violent participants — in D.C. and state capitals across the nation.
In a statement to the AP, an FBI spokesperson explained: “While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, the FBI is supporting our state, local, and federal law enforcement partners with maintaining public safety in the communities we serve. Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals that are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity.”