By Jack Phillips
The National Guard confirmed that up to 15,000 troops will be authorized to be deployed around Washington D.C. ahead of Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.
“Right now, we have approximately 6,200 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from 6 states and the District of Columbia on the ground in the NCR [National Capital Region] supporting civilian authorities,” said Gen. Daniel Hokanson in a statement on Monday.
The general noted that he’s received requests from the Secret Service, Capitol Police, and Park Police for guardsmen to be deployed in the city.
They have also “been authorized to provide up to 15,000 Guard members to meet current and future inauguration support requirements,” he said. “To date, our troops have been requested to support security, logistics, liaison, and communication missions.”
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she asked President Donald Trump and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to make a declaration of a disaster for the D.C. area to allow for more resources, adding that public gathering permits should be canceled between Jan. 10 and Jan. 24.
Bowser also urged Americans to avoid the city during the inauguration.
Wolf said Monday that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will start “the National Special Security Event operations for the 2021 Inauguration effective Wednesday, January 13th instead of January 19th.”
The move was prompted by “events of the past week and the evolving security landscape leading up to the inauguration,” referring to the Jan. 6 electoral count that was later delayed by groups who stormed the Capitol building.
But Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn,), who said he was sending a letter to the acting secretary of defense on Monday, said it was unclear if the National Guard would be sufficient to protect the nation’s capital and active-duty troops may also be needed.
The Park Service said it would suspend tours of the Washington Monument, an obelisk honoring the country’s first president, due to safety concerns from threats to disrupt the inauguration.
The committee has told Americans not to travel to the inauguration, and said Washington’s National Mall will be covered with 191,500 flags of different sizes to represent the missing crowds.
A U.S. presidential inauguration traditionally draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the U.S. capital, but the ceremonies have been scaled back dramatically because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some critics have said Trump, during a rally near the Capitol, incited violence—despite the president saying that the protesters should protest peacefully. Following the breach, Trump called on them to “go home in peace” before denouncing the violence on Jan. 7.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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