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National Guard response to civil unrest

20-054 | June 3, 2020

As of Wednesday morning, a historic 74,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen were activated for domestic operations across the United States. This surpassed the approximate 51,000 Guard members who were activated during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina response. Presently, there are more than 101,000 Guard men and women engaged in homeland and overseas missions.

Governors in 31 states and the District of Columbia have activated 30,000 National Guard members to assist state and local law enforcement in support of civil unrest operations. The situation remains fluid and the numbers may change rapidly as governors assess their needs.

Approximately 39,400 National Guard members continue supporting the COVID-19 response efforts in all 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia. Testing and screening is the priority effort in most states as they reopen.

“Our troops are trained to protect life, preserve property and ensure people’s right to peacefully demonstrate,” said Gen. Joseph Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau. “Your National Guard is here to help, and we will stay as long as we are needed.”


In all cases, state and local law enforcement agencies remain responsible for security. National Guard have been requested to support these missions because they are trained, equipped and prepared to help restore order. The Guard soldiers and airmen in our ranks are recruited from the communities they serve.

District of Columbia National Guard personnel were activated in support of civil authorities to protect the lives and property of their fellow citizens. DC currently has approximately 1,300 soldiers and airmen protecting lives and infrastructure. Guard members from 10 states are supporting or will support the DC civil unrest mission as required. The situation is fluid and the numbers can change rapidly.

The District of Columbia National Guard announced today it is conducting an investigation into the June 1 low-flying maneuvers by its helicopters to ensure all involved complied with applicable procedures and safety regulations.

“I hold all members of the District of Columbia National Guard to the highest of standards. We live and work in the District, and we are dedicated to the service of our nation,” said Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, DCNG Commanding General. “I have directed an immediate investigation into the June 1 incident.”


National Guard civil support missions are generally conducted to assist:

  • Supporting civil authorities whose capabilities or capability is insufficient to meet current requirements.
  • Protecting the life, property and safety of U.S. citizens.
  • Protecting critical U.S. infrastructure.
  • Providing humanitarian assistance during disaster response and domestic emergencies.
  • Providing support to designated law enforcement activities and operations.
  • Providing support to designated events, and other activities.

Additional missions currently being performed by National Guard men and women include wildfire and flood response, as well as cyber support. June 1 was the official start of the hurricane season, a date not lost on the National Guard.

The Puerto Rico National Guard is prepared for the start of the 2020 hurricane season and is urging residents to take precautions.

“The Puerto Rico National Guard, and its more than 8,000 citizen-soldiers and -airmen, is ready to fulfill the governor’s call in support to the security and emergency agencies in situations like this,” said Maj. Gen. José J. Reyes, the adjutant general of Puerto Rico. “We have been reviewing and updating our contingency plans as well as the municipalities’ emergency plans. Each municipality is unique, and we have to grasp where its weaknesses are to improve the coordination between the municipalities, state, and federal agencies.”

Resources the PRNG can draw on in an emergency include engineers, carriers, military police, three water purification units and 10 helicopters.

The PRNG has also established collaborative agreements with National Guards from 18 states that can send Guard members and equipment to the island should the need arise.


For information regarding this press release, please send an email to the National Guard Bureau Media Operations desk at ng.ncr.ngb-arng.mesg.ngb-media-desk-owner@mail.mil.