At least 20,000 National Guard members are expected to be in Washington D.C. for President-elect Joe Biden‘s inauguration, which is roughly four times more than the amount of troops currently in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said, “I think you can expect to see somewhere, upwards beyond 20,000 members of the National Guard that will be here in the footprint of the District of Columbia.”
When asked if he has ever seen law enforcement reinforcement to this magnitude in D.C., Contee said “not at this level, no.”
Contee also noted that since the inauguration was designated as a national special security event, the final numbers of National Guard members deployed in the city “will be provided from the United States Secret Service.”
The 20,000 National Guard members expected in the city is an increase of 5,000, as 15,000 were previously deployed to the city by the Department of Defense earlier this week.
As the Military Times noted on Tuesday, the 15,000 National Guard members deployed earlier this week was about twice the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, due to a drawdown to 2,500 troops in both nations. The drawdown was announced by Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller in November, when he said that by January 15, Afghanistan will reduce from 4,500 troops and Iraq from 3,000.
With the increase in National Guard members on Wednesday, the inauguration will have around four times more troops than those in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.
National Guard members were previously deployed in D.C. following the September 11 terrorist attacks and in 1968 as the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sparked riots, but neither deployed the estimated 20,000 that will be on hand for Biden’s inauguration.
Newsweek reached out to the National Guard for comment but did not receive a reply before publication.
The increase in National Guard members comes amid political turmoil following the January 6 riots at the Capitol, when supporters of President Donald Trump breached the building in protest of Congress certifying electoral votes.
Following the riots at the Capitol, there have been reports detailing potential violence during Biden’s inauguration.
While speaking to CNN‘s New Day on Tuesday, Pennsylvania Rep. Connor Lamb said that he was one of the lawmakers briefed on potential threats against the Capitol and lawmakers in the coming days.
“They were talking about 4,000 armed ‘patriots’ to surround the Capitol and prevent any Democrat from going in,” Lamb said. “They have published rules of engagement, meaning when you shoot and when you don’t. So this is an organized group that has a plan. They are committed to doing what they’re doing because I think in their minds, you know, they are patriots and they’re talking about 1776 and so this is now a contest of wills.”
CNN also reported an internal memo from the FBI warning that “armed protests” are being planned at all 50 state capitols in the days leading up to Biden’s inauguration.
In response to the recent reports, Trump issued a statement on Wednesday where he said, “I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind.”
“That is not what I stand for and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You,” the statement said.
National Guard Inauguration Deployment 4 Times More Than Number of Troops in Afghanistan and Iraq The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Newsweek.