Pentagon authorizes 25,000 National Guard members for inauguration

Pentagon authorizes 25,000 National Guard members for inauguration

The Pentagon has authorized up to 25,000 National Guard members for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, the National Guard Bureau said in a press release Friday, marking an increase from the 21,000 troops authorized a day earlier.

“Every state, territory and the District of Columbia will have National Guard men and women supporting the inauguration,” the statement said.

As of Thursday, there were 7,000 Guardsmen in Washington from more than a dozen states and the DC National Guard. That number will more than triple in the next few days.

The surge in service members comes as law enforcement in the nation’s capital and around the country brace for more extremist violence after the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol last week. The FBI has received information indicating “armed protests” are being planned at all 50 state capitols and the US Capitol in Washington in the days leading up to Biden’s inauguration, according to an internal bulletin obtained by CNN.

“Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the US Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” the bulletin states.

The National Guard will have more than strength in numbers. The Department of Defense announced Tuesday that National Guard members will be armed as they are supporting US Capitol security in Washington, DC, ahead of Inauguration Day.

Capt. Chelsi Johnson, spokesperson for the DC National Guard, said in a statement to CNN that the move was requested by federal authorities and authorized by Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy. The first wave of National Guard troops who arrived at the Capitol were unarmed.

Different entities involved in the inauguration are preparing as well. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday urged Americans to avoid the city during Biden’s inauguration. Speaking at a news conference Monday, Bowser, a Democrat, stressed that she was concerned about more violent actors potentially coming to the city in the run-up to the inauguration, saying, “If I’m scared of anything, it’s for our democracy, because we have very extreme factions in our country that are armed and dangerous.”

The Secret Service, which is leading the overall security effort working in coordination with federal law enforcement agencies and the Pentagon, on Wednesday officially took charge of security for Biden’s inauguration as authorities warned of new threats across the country after last week’s violence at the Capitol. The agency has been instructed to begin its preparations for the inauguration ahead of schedule.