Some of the 10,000 National Guard troops flocking to Washington, DC to help secure the area ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration will be armed, two U.S. officials said on Tuesday.
The move by Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy comes as the FBI warned of planned armed protests in Washington ahead of the Jan. 20 swearing-in ceremony.
US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not say how many would be armed, but noted that Guard troops helping to secure the Capitol building would have weapons.
One of the officials said the troops would not be the first line of defense and would support law enforcement, but given the threat around the Capitol, troops must be equipped with their weapons to defend themselves.
The military did not immediately comment.
Last Wednesday, hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump ransacked the Capitol building as Congress was in session to certify Biden’s victory, battling with police, sending lawmakers to flee to safety and leaving five dead.
The National Guard was authorized to send up to 15,000 troops to Washington, and tourists were not allowed to visit the Washington Monument until January 24.
National Guard Bureau chief Gen. Daniel Hokanson told reporters Monday he expected around 10,000 troops in Washington by Saturday to help provide security, logistics and communications.
The US law enforcement agencies who took over the presidential nomination significantly increased their budgets after the riot on Capitol Hill last week.
While the President-elect’s inaugural committee does not shoulder the burden of securing the event, it has also stepped up its own fundraising efforts in recent days if there was a need for more support staff, contractors, equipment or additional private security.