Members of the National Guard slept overnight Wednesday on cold marble floors alongside their weapons inside the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., while assigned to protect the building.
Photographs from on scene depict soldiers from multiple states and units, including Virginia’s 29th Infantry Division, huddled around statues or lying down side by side.
The soldiers are among the 15,000 National Guard troops that have been activated to safeguard the Jan. 20 inaugural in the wake of last week’s deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol.
Active and veteran National Guard members told Just the News that troops in transit grab sleep where they can, including on chairs, baggage claim belts, or the floor, but that the ad hoc quarters can and should be replaced by proper bedding.
“This reminds me of when we slept on the marble floors in Sadam’s palace,” said one veteran, recalling the 2003 fall of Baghdad. “But we had it better. We had cots.”
Housing the soldiers at nearby military installations, such as Fort Belvoir, in Virginia, or Joint Base Andrews, in Maryland, could present logistical issues getting them to and from the District, one active duty Army officer said.
Many street in the district’s were blocked late Tuesday night from vehicle traffic with concrete barriers.
“This is a time when you send someone into town with a credit card to buy up all available hotel rooms,” one official told Just the News.
The Washington, D.C. National Guard does not have enough cots, mats, blankets, and other gear to immediately support the inrush of troops, one National Guard officer said. The material likely is en route, the officer said.
An additional 5,000 members of the National Guard have been authorized to bolster security inside the city, bringing the total to at least 20,000 for the Jan. 20 inaugural.