Members of the National Guard assist police officers in setting up protesters to gather at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.
Tasos Katopodis | Getty Images
The DC National Guard is being mobilized for 30 days to ensure it is available for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, two defense officials told NBC News.
The unarmed forces will be monitoring air traffic control points and assisting the Capitol Police on Thursday, while authorities work to secure the perimeter of the Capitol the day after the storm by a mob backing President Donald Trump.
About 200 soldiers with riot gear will be out on the streets in the morning, possibly later in the day, a defense official said.
The mobilization comes as the nation processes Wednesday’s surprise uprising that killed at least four people. All four living former presidents have condemned the day’s events, where a violent mob discouraged lawmakers from the typically superficial process of formally confirming Biden’s victory.
The DC National Guard was mobilized during the riot and about 1,100 soldiers were deployed to assist local police in containing the insurgency, the Pentagon said. The operation came after Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requested the troop, two sources told NBC News.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced all plans to send National Guard troops to DC as well.
President Donald Trump, who spoke at a rally to protest the election results just before his supporters infiltrated Congress, has not condemned the unrest or defeat. He encouraged protesters to be peaceful after storming the Capitol.
The President continued to raise unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud, despite the findings of the Justice and Homeland Security Ministries to the contrary. A person familiar with the matter told NBC News that Trump must be convinced to approve the National Guard’s deployment on Wednesday.
It is typical for the National Guard to be present at the inaugurations, and in 2017 more than 7,000 soldiers were mobilized for Trump’s inauguration. It is not clear how many will be used for the inauguration of Biden.
Biden’s inauguration is expected to look very different from previous ceremonies due to public health precautions.
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will take their oath of office at the Capitol on Jan. 20, but have otherwise changed tradition to adapt to the spreading coronavirus pandemic.
The Biden transition team has said it is reinterpreting the typical National Mall gathering and opening parade from the Capitol to the White House so that Americans can attend from home.
Biden condemned the riot on Wednesday in a national televised address.
“At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented attack,” said the former vice president.
“It is chaos, it verges on turmoil and it has to end now. I call on this mob to pull back and do this democratic work,” added Biden.
The rioters’ success in breaking police barriers has raised questions about the security precautions being taken for the inauguration.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Who is on the committee planning Biden’s inauguration, said on CBS News, “There needs to be big, thorough reviews of what happened and what changes have been made.”
Klobuchar added that the inauguration is a major security event every four years compared to the electoral college vote count, which generally takes place without incident.
“Here they had an event that normally has little historical note,” said Klobuchar.
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