The number of armed troops to be deployed in Washington D.C. for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration is expected to be more than 20,000, according to local authorities.
“You can expect to see somewhere upwards of beyond 20,000 members of the National Guard that will be here in footprint the District of Columbia,” said Acting Police Chief Robert J. Contee III.
Their previous intention was to have 15,000 troops guarding the district.
The D.C. National Guard said in a statement: “At approximately 6 p.m. January 12, 2021, National Guard members will be armed in support of the U.S. Capitol security. This was requested by federal authorities and authorized by the Secretary of the Army National Guard members 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.”
They also commented about their resting area and the photos that have been spreading of armed troops in the Capitol.
“Photos have circulated this morning showing National Guard troops resting in the Capitol building. This area of the Capitol has been designated a rest area for National Guard members when they are on duty but between shifts. To be clear, this not where they are lodging when off-duty. Being present is the first step in ensuring the safety of our citizens and our Nation’s Capitol. Our security personnel work in shifts and rest when they can as others stand watch,” says the statement.
The National Guard troops guarding the U.S. Capitol are authorized to carry firearms, the Army announced Wednesday.
A Capitol Police officer stands with members of the National Guard behind a crowd control fence surrounding Capitol Hill a day after a group broke into the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Jan. 7, 2021. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
The personnel were armed on Tuesday night in response to a request from federal authorities, the D.C. National Guard said in a statement. The arming was greenlit by Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.
“National Guard members are postured to meet the requirements of the supported civil authorities, up to and including protective equipment and being armed if necessary,” the statement said. “The public’s safety is our top priority.”
Bowser told the public during a separate event that they should not travel to Washington for Biden’s inauguration.
“Our goals right now are to encourage Americans to participate virtually and to protect the District of Columbia from a repeat of the violent insurrection experienced at the Capitol and its grounds on January the 6th,” she said.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.