A total of 12 National Guard troops sent to Washington, D.C., to provide security ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday have been removed from their posts over suspected ties to militia groups and for posting what some have characterized as “extremist” views online.
Meanwhile, 2,000 Guard troops were sworn in on Sunday by Chief Lamont Ruffin from the D.C. District Court as Special Deputy U.S. Marshals.
Chief Lamont Ruffin from D.C. District Court swears in 2000 National Guard troops as Special Deputy U.S. Marshals prior to the upcoming presidential inauguration: https://t.co/vw5OC3maqV pic.twitter.com/oG6n1JgpiZ
— U.S. Marshals (@USMarshalsHQ) January 18, 2021
“Deputation gives the guardsmen temporary, limited, law enforcement authority pertaining specifically to the safety and protection of the inauguration and related events,” the Marshal Service’s office of public affairs noted.
As for the dozen troops removed, a senior intelligence official and a senior U.S. Army official briefed on the matter did not say what views were expressed or what groups the soldiers were allegedly linked to, the Daily Mail reported.
National Guard and Secret Service officials also would not comment on the troops’ removal. However, they did note that there was never any threat to Biden.
One America News Networks’ Jack Prosobiec noted in a tweet that a White House official told him, “Zero active threats as of this morning, just tons of anonymous tips from paranoid Biden supporters though…lines have been flooded with psychobable and nothing burgers since Friday.”
WH official – “Zero active threats as of this morning, just tons of anonymous tips from paranoid Biden supporters though…lines have been flooded with psychobable and nothing burgers since Friday.”
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) January 19, 2021
Nevertheless, Gen. Daniel Hokanson, National Guard Bureau commander, said he is confident that the remaining 25,000 troops called into the nation’s capital ahead of the inauguration are “trained and ready for anything,” adding that he wasn’t concerned about any threats.
He added that Guard troops from all 50 states have been activated or assigned to assist local law enforcement for the inauguration.
Various intelligence reports have noted for weeks that groups on the left and right may be planning demonstrations and violence, but in recent days many of them have been urging members to avoid inaugural events because of the stepped-up presence of troops and law enforcement.
The FBI was tasked with vetting the thousands of Guard troops mobilized to support the security mission for the inaugural, which Hokanson said is standard operating procedure. However, at least one governor — Greg Abbott of Texas (R) — took offense that the Pentagon was vetting troops from his state.
“This is the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard. No one should ever question the loyalty or professionalism of the Texas National Guard. @TexasGuard I authorized more than 1,000 to go to DC. I’ll never do it again if they are disrespected like this,” he wrote on Twitter.
In addition to the Guard force, the Defense Department also deployed 750 active-duty troops specializing in chemical, biological, and nuclear explosives and weapons to provide an additional layer of security.
“We’ve done a lot of work. We’re making sure that our folks are trained and ready for anything they’re going to be asked to do. Our folks are always trained in de-escalation techniques,” Hokanson told the Today show on Tuesday.
He went on to say that he isn’t concerned about any so-called ‘insider threat.’
“It’s not a threat for me, I’m not concerned about that at all. If you look at our National Guardsman, we vet them throughout the process. We don’t allow extremism of any type in our organization,” he said.
Many Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) require security clearances; to obtain one, the soldier or airman must pass a background check.
“As we look at this as a national special security event… this type of vetting is standard,” the Guard Bureau chief added.
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