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National Guard response to civil unrest

20-057 | June 8, 2020

As of Monday morning, a record 96,521 National Guard members are supporting homeland operations at the direction of their governors. The current number represents activations for civil unrest, COVID-19 and natural disasters.

This record surpassed the approximate 51,000 Guard members activated during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina response. Presently, there are more than 119,000 Guard men and women engaged in homeland and overseas missions.

Governors in 34 states and the District of Columbia have activated more than 42,700 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.

Today, approximately 4,000 Guard men and women from the District of Columbia and supporting states remain on station in DC for support to the National Capitol Region. More than 600 returned to their home state Sunday, and an additional 1,500 are expected to depart in the next 24 hours. All additional Guardsmen from states supporting DC are expected to return home by Wednesday.

“The National Guard, over the short span of several months, has gone from tackling natural disasters such as floods, to combating the coronavirus across the country, to now dealing with civil unrest in support of law enforcement on the streets of America, all while many of their fellow Guardsmen are deployed abroad, defending against America’s real adversaries,” said Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper.

As Master Sgt. Acie Matthews Jr. walked past a group of loud protesters next to Minnesota’s state capitol building June 1, one of the organizers targeted him with her loudspeaker.

“These people aren’t here for us! They’re here to keep us oppressed,” Matthews recalled the protester saying to him and other National Guard members.

Instead of ignoring her, Matthews, an equal employment opportunity adviser who had been checking on other troops in the area, decided to stop and listen.

“We’re on the same team,” Master Sgt. Matthews Jr. told the protester. “This is Minnesota’s Army. We’re not some outside force that just came in here. We’re here for the people of the great state of Minnesota.”


The Louisiana National Guard has begun preparing for emergency operations ahead of Tropical Storm Cristobal, while continuing its COVID-19 response missions. Members of the National Guard are trained and equipped to protect lives and property, maintain communications, and ensure the continuity of operations and government.

In addition to 88 high-water vehicles and 35 rescue boats that are currently prepared and staged across south Louisiana, the LANG has helicopters ready to support search-and-rescue, evacuation and reconnaissance missions as 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. Guardsmen 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 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 response mission the National Guard routinely prepares for.

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.