Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy has authorized the arming of National Guardsmen in support of the U.S. Capitol Police, the D.C. National Guard announced Wednesday.
“On January 12, 2021, National Guardsmen were given authorization to be armed in support of the U.S. Capitol Police to protect the U.S. Capitol and individual members of congress and their staff,” the D.C. National Guard said in a statement.
“This was requested by federal authorities and authorized by the Secretary of the Army. National Guardsmen are postured to meet the requirements of the supported civil authorities, up to and including protective equipment and being armed if necessary. The public’s safety is our top priority,” it said.
The arming of the National Guard comes seven days ahead of the inauguration of the incoming Biden administration.
Approximately 6,200 National Guard soldiers and airmen from six states and D.C. are currently in the National Capital Region. However, more than 20,000 National Guardsmen are now expected to be in Washington during the inauguration, D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said Wednesday during a press conference.
The D.C. Guard said in its statement:
To date, we are being asked to provide security, crowd management, traffic control, parking coordination, and medical and logistical support. The public’s safety is our top priority. Guardsmen are trained in the use of lethal and less-than-lethal force, de-escalation techniques, as well as the use of protective equipment. This is standard for civil disturbance response missions.
We have 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. The D.C. National Guard has been supporting Presidential Inaugurations’ since 1861. As always, our priority is to protect the American people.
Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller approved up to 6,200 National Guardsmen to support civil authorities in D.C. at the request of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and federal agencies, after some pro-Trump protesters broke into the Capitol or engaged in violence against the D.C. Capitol police.
That included approximately 1,100 D.C. National Guardsmen, about 500 from Maryland, approximately 1,000 from Pennsylvania, 1,000 from New York, approximately 500 from New Jersey, and an unspecified number from Virginia and Delaware.