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National Guard response to civil unrest

20-055 | June 4, 2020

As of Thursday morning, a historic 75,000 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 110,000 Guard men and women engaged in homeland and overseas missions.

Governors in 32 states and the District of Columbia have activated more than 32,400 National Guard members to assist state and local law enforcement in support of civil unrest operations. The numbers may change as governors assess their needs.

“I’ve always believed and continue to believe that the National Guard is best suited for performing domestic support to civil authorities in these situations, in support of local law enforcement,” said Defense Secretary Mark Esper. “I say this not only as secretary of defense, but also as a former soldier and a former member of the National Guard.”

Approximately 38,000 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. “We’re uniquely suited for this mission. People know the National Guard is here to help.”

In response to the civil unrest in the District of Columbia, National Guard soldiers and airmen from 10 states are supporting the DC National Guard with personnel to assist local and federal law enforcement.

The DCNG currently has about 1,200 National Guardsmen activated, and another 3,300 members from other states are or will be supporting. States are: Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.


The District of Columbia National Guard announced Wednesday 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.”


Members of the Ohio National Guard were activated by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWitt to assist local authorities after three days of civil unrest in major Ohio cities.

“We were tasked to come to Cleveland to assist local law enforcement only in a support capacity,” said Army Capt. Josh Michalski, commander of the Ohio Army National Guard’s 135th Military Police Company, adding that his unit has been primarily handling security around areas of critical infrastructure.

In addition to support from local citizens, the unit’s law enforcement counterparts have been just as encouraging. That cooperation has made a complicated mission much easier, Michalski said.


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. Guardsmen in our ranks are recruited from the communities they serve.

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 operati ons.
  • 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.

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.