Additional National Guard units arrive in the U.S. capital
The U.S. capital is preparing to receive thousands of additional National Guard troops who will be involved in keeping order during next week’s transition of power.
“I think we can expect to have more than 20,000 National Guard troops here,” Robert Conti, acting head of the Metropolitan Police Department, told reporters Wednesday.
Defense Department officials confirmed the authorization for the increased contingent.
The announcement comes days after the National Guard said it would send up to 15,000 troops to Washington to provide security ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
The National Guard is made up of combined-service soldiers who may be deployed overseas but are often called upon to help with emergencies in their states.
Officials say 10,000 Guardsmen are expected to arrive in Washington by Friday. The rest will arrive a little later.
More than 6,000 National Guardsmen have been on duty in Washington and the Capitol since extremist supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the building of Congress on Jan. 6.
In a statement released Monday, National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Daniel Hokanson said they would handle “security, logistics, communications, and communications.”
As of Tuesday evening, however, National Guardsmen working at the Capitol also carry weapons.
“Such a request was made by federal authorities and approved by the Secretary of the Army,” D.C. National Guard said.
Photos of armed soldiers in camouflage guarding the Capitol and standing in the hallways circulated on social media Wednesday.
The photos and video also show streets blocked off by military vehicles and workers installing additional barriers.
By comparison, four years ago, when Trump was inaugurated, only 8,000 National Guardsmen participated in security in Washington.
This year’s precautions include closing more streets around the Capitol. Only lawmakers, their staff, and security personnel will be able to enter the closed area.
Other Washington landmarks are also closed.
The National Park Service announced earlier this week that the Washington Monument will be closed to the public until after the inauguration. Other parts of the National Mall will also be closed in the coming days.
“The events of Jan. 6 serve as a stark reminder of the importance of comprehensive security planning,” the U.S. Secret Service, which is leading the planning effort, said in a statement.