26,000 National Guard members to secure Washington for inauguration

US officials say the number of National Guard troops pouring into the nation’s capital to assist law enforcement with security surrounding the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden has grown to about 26,000.

Officials say Guard members from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, are deploying to the city. Officials had initially said up to 20,000 would be needed, but said the final number has grown based on additional requests from law enforcement officials.

The US officials aren’t authorized to discuss security details publicly, and speak on condition of anonymity.

As of Thursday, there are roughly 7,000 Guard members in Washington, with thousands more on the way. Officials say at this point, between 3,000 to 4,000 of those Guard members are armed.

The length of the missions may vary, but Defense Department officials were authorized to deploy the Guard for up to 30 days for the inauguration and surrounding protests.

Pentagon officials approved requests to have some Guard members armed with either long guns or handguns, particularly those Guard members assigned near the US Capitol.

Hundreds of National Guard troops hold inside the Capitol Visitor’s Center to reinforce security at the Capitol in Washington, January 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)