Up to 15,000 National Guard troops are being eyed for deployment to the upcoming presidential inauguration as part of stepped-up security arrangements following last week’s violent assault on the Capitol by pro-Trump protesters.
Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, said just over 6,000 National Guard soldiers from six states and the District of Columbia have already been deployed in Washington. That number is expected to rise dramatically in the coming days.
The National Guard will be supporting specific requests from the Secret Service, Capitol Police and the U.S. Park Police, officials said.
“To date, our troops have been requested to support security, logistics, liaison and communications missions,” Gen. Hokanson told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday. “That really drives the number of personnel we will provide.”
The National Guard troops will be bringing their weapons into the city but any decision to carry them will be decided after consulting with law enforcement officials.
“Ideally, they’ll never need them, but if they do, we want to know they’re close by and readily accessible if necessary - based on the mission,” Gen. Hokanson said. “We want our individuals to have the right to self-defense.”
About 340 National Guard troops had been activated but were assigned to traffic control duties in Washington during a violent protest that left five dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
The number of guardsmen deployed for Inauguration Day has varied in the past. About 9,000 troops were on hand during the inauguration of Barack Obama.