As of this morning, more than 21,500 National Guard members are in the District of Columbia providing support to the upcoming presidential inauguration.
In total, 63,240 National Guard soldiers and airmen are supporting homeland operations at the direction of their governors across the county. The current number includes activations for COVID-19 and civil support to law enforcement missions.
Presently, there are almost 87,000 Guard men and women engaged in homeland and overseas missions. More than 22,000 National Guard professionals continue COVID-19 response efforts at the direction of their governors in all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.
At least 25,000 National Guard men and women have been authorized to conduct security, communication and logistical missions in support of federal and D.C. authorities through the Jan. 20 inauguration and beyond as necessary.
“I have visited with these Guard men and women every night, and they understand the importance of this mission,” said Army Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau. “They are also proven, prepared, and proud to do their part to ensure a peaceful and safe inauguration of our 46th commander-in-chief.”
With more than 441,000 soldiers and airmen across 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia, the National Guard has a deep bench of experience and capabilities to call upon. At the National Guard’s historic activation peak on June 6, 2020, roughly 120,000 Guard members were engaged worldwide.
National Guard civil support to law enforcement in the Nation’s Capital includes:
- Protecting Members of Congress and Congressional personnel
- Securing the grounds and property of the U.S. Capitol
- Staffing traffic control points
- Providing point/area security
- Providing crowd management
- Providing parking coordination
- Providing medical and logistical support
- Supporting other missions mutually agreed upon with civilian law enforcement authorities
For those living and working in the national capital region, the Secret Service has published an updated list of traffic closures leading up to the inauguration. In addition, the National Park Service reminded the public in a statement that security restrictions pertinent to the 59th Presidential Inauguration have closed public access to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, through Jan 21.
Guard's judge advocates brief Soldiers and Airmen in DC
Several District of Columbia National Guard (DCNG) judge advocates are providing guidance to Soldiers and Airmen during Operation Capitol Response in the nation's capital.
Maj. Don Cravins Jr., a command judge advocate with the DCNG Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, is one of several judge advocates and paralegals charged with ensuring Soldiers and Airmen are briefed on mission rules and guidelines while they are in D.C.
"The safety and protection of the public is our top priority at the District of Columbia National Guard," said Cravins. "One of the most important jobs of the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate is to ensure Soldiers and Airmen are briefed and trained on the laws and rules that form the mission."
Cravins has served nearly 10 years in the National Guard and has been a licensed attorney since 1998.
"As an Army lawyer, my job is to ensure Soldiers and Airmen clearly understand the do's and don'ts of the mission," said Cravins. "My teammates and I brief them on the rules of conduct, the use of force and de-escalation techniques, the laws of the District of Columbia and on Department of Defense regulations. We also go through real-life training scenarios and explain the rights and protections allotted to them as Soldiers and Airmen under Title 32 of the United States Code."
Some Guardsmen who are supporting Operation Capitol Response will be sworn in as special police by civilian law enforcement agencies such as the U.S. Capitol Police, U.S. Park Police and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. Their duties will include protecting members of Congress and other congressional personnel and securing the grounds and property of the U.S. Capitol.
"Knowing and understanding the rules related to the use of force, self-defense and defense of others and rules of conduct are vital keys to ensuring a successful mission," said Cravins.
Cravins is a former state legislator and served as chief of staff to a U.S. senator. Having worked in government and at the U.S. Capitol, Cravins feels a special relationship with this mission.
"I am proud to be an American Soldier and to serve with the men and women of the National Guard," he said. "I, along with many other men and women, are working behind the scenes to ensure our Soldiers and Airmen have the tools and resources necessary to successfully perform the mission. We have a long and proud history of supporting our nation, its Capitol and the District of Columbia, and we are working hard to continue that tradition."
Vetting of National Guard troops
“If there’s any indication that any of our soldiers or airmen are expressing things that are extremist views, it’s either handed over to law enforcement or dealt with the chain of command immediately,” said Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau.
A U.S. Army spokesman said, “The Army is working with the FBI to vet all service members supporting the Inauguration National Special Security Event.
Per Department of Defense policy, all service members are trained annually on the Threat Awareness and Reporting Program (TARP) which requires department personnel to report any information regarding known or suspected extremist behavior that could be a threat to the department or the United States.
The D.C. National Guard is also providing additional training to service members as they arrive in D.C. that if they see or hear something that is not appropriate, they should report it to their chain of command. There is no place for extremism in the military and we will investigate each report individually and take appropriate action.
Any type of activity that involves violence, civil disobedience, or a breach of peace may be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or under state or federal law.“
The National Guard follows the same process for potential insider threats as the U.S. Army.
A repository of National Guard Bureau Press releases are available online at https://www.nationalguard.mil/Resources/Press-Releases/. For information regarding this press release, please send an email to the National Guard Bureau Media Operations desk at ng.ncr.ngb- firstname.lastname@example.org.