The Pentagon on Friday authorized as many as 25,000 National Guardsmen to support federal law enforcement during the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris next week.
“The Defense Department has agreed to provide up to 25,000 service members to support the Presidential Inauguration National Special Security Event federal law enforcement mission and security preparations, as led by the U.S. Secret Service,” the National Guard said in a statement.
The statement said the Army and the National Guard are “working on a sourcing solution” to support the request, and that every state, territory, and the District of Columbia will have National Guardsmen supporting the inauguration.
At least 7,000 National Guardsmen are already in D.C. now from at least 13 states: D.C., Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
The Secret Service, Capitol Police, and U.S. Park Police requested support from the National Guard, according to the latter entity. The Secret Service is the lead federal agency coordinating security for the inauguration on January 20. Since D.C. is not a state, the civilian leadership of the Army and the Pentagon, versus a state governor, must approve such requests.
The 25,000 for the inauguration alone contrasts with the 21,600 currently activated for the Chinese coronavirus response mission throughout the U.S.
“More than 21,600 National Guard professionals continue COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] response efforts at the direction of their governors in all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia,” the Guard said in its statement.
“Our National Guard soldiers and airmen are set around the city to protect our nation’s Capital. At the same time we have thousands around the country supporting COVID operations, Operation Warp Speed, and a multitude of soldiers and airmen are deployed overseas supporting combat operations,” Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau said in the statement.
“I would especially like to thank the families who are maybe alone tonight, and let you know our nation greatly appreciates all your sacrifices, and those of your service member. I cannot be prouder to be part of this organization,” he said.