Twelve National Guard Members were Removed from Defending the Capitol During the Presidential Inauguration
25,000 U.S. National Guardsmen from all 50 states and three territories are stationed in Washington D.C. for the presidential inauguration. After vetting each individual for potential insider threats, twelve were removed from their role at the Capitol, including two “who made extremist statements in posts or texts about the Wednesday event” according to the Associated Press.
“While we have no intelligence indicating an insider threat, we are leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital,” said Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller in a statement.
EXTREMISM NOT TO BE TOLERATED
“We’re not taking any chances,” said Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman. He also said the extremist statements were made via text message.
AP reported that the guardsmen who were removed had ties to right-wing and anti-government organizations but were unable to say which groups they supported. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity and did not say which units the removed soldiers belonged to.
Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson declined to give anymore information about possible extremist views and said ten guard members were relieved of duty due to possible criminal activity or events not associated with the inauguration. One of the guardsmen was dropped due to an anonymous tip.
“[Extremism] is not tolerated in any branch of the United States military,” Hokanson said to Pentagon reporters. “If there are reported issues, our leaders will address them immediately, in accordance with established department policies, and include ordered coordination with law enforcement.”
The large numbers of national guardsmen were called in following the riot at the Capitol. Security is heightened and the inauguration is now considered a “national special security event” according to Secret Service agent Michael Plati who is heading up the occasion.
The area surrounding the Capitol was on lockdown in preparation for the inauguration.