WASHINGTON, D.C. – Another 5,000 members of the National Guard are expected to arrive in the nation's capitol to support security efforts around Inauguration Day, bringing the total in the area to around 20,000, according to the Washington Post and CNN.
Wednesday morning, as the House prepared to vote on the second impeachment of President Donald Trump, many guardsmen and women were seen sleeping on the floors of the Capitol building. The troops were reportedly taking their breaks and trying to nap inside the Capitol, as a 24-hour rotation of troops are stationed along Pennsylvania Avenue.
Some of the Guard members were seen with guns. The New York Times and CNN both report that many of the troops who are flooding the D.C. area will be armed after receiving authorization from the Pentagon.
The number of Guard members coming in from other states has been growing, amid escalating fears of more violent protests in the wake of the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol last week.
“Right now [Jan. 11], we have approximately 6,200 National Guard soldiers and airmen from six states and the District of Columbia on the ground in the NCR supporting civilian authorities,” said Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau. “We have received support requests from the Secret Service, Capitol Police, and Park Police, and have been authorized to provide up to 15,000 Guard members to meet current and future inauguration support requirements.”
Wednesday afternoon, officials said that number was going to grow.
“I think you can except to see somewhere upwards beyond 20,000 members of the National Guard that will be here in the footprint of the District of Columbia,” acting D.C. police chief Robert J. Contee III said at a news conference.
The Army also said Tuesday that officials are working with the Secret Service to determine which Guard members may need additional background screenings. Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado had asked Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy to have the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command screen Guard members coming in to ensure they were not “sympathetic to domestic terrorists.”
The Army said some members may be subject to additional background screenings. Traditionally, those who get within close proximity to the president – or in this case the president-elect – are checked more closely. So far, officials said they have not yet identified any Guard members who participated in the protests.
The Army said the D.C. National Guard is also giving troops additional training as they arrive in the city, so they know to identify and report any extremist behavior to their commanders.
The Army also said it is working with the FBI to identify people who participated in Capitol attack, adding, “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.”