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Threats of “armed protests” in many cities provoke the support of the National Guard to take office

Neighboring countries may need to reserve National Guard members to protect their own facilities and personnel, which may limit the ability of the Department of Defense, which controls the DC National Guard, to call on them for additional assistance.

“We are not going to take too many of their countries out and put them at risk, so a very delicate risk management process is underway,” Secretary of Defense Ryan McCarthy said in an interview.

Capitol police asked for help on Jan. 6 when pro-Trump rebels stormed the Capitol building, while Pentagon officials said inadequate planning meant they could not respond immediately. As part of their attempt to secure a stronger military response, officers plan to deploy up to 1

5,000 guards – or potentially more – in and around the country’s capital.

McCarthy was scheduled to meet with senior officials from the FBI, Secret Service and other agencies to finalize plans on Tuesday afternoon. From Wednesday, members of the guard will take part in security rehearsals, which means an increased stake around the inauguration, already marked by fears of a coronavirus pandemic and threats of violence from supporters of President Trump.

The Pentagon’s attempt to calibrate its position ahead of more planned protests underscores the balancing act that has been tried – sometimes unsuccessfully – in recent months. Defense officials are seeking to guard against the alleged election policy and deal with the uncomfortable reality that their commander-in-chief is using increasingly aggressive tactics to undermine the 2020 election.

In an unusual public announcement Tuesday, General Mark A. Millie, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior military leaders acknowledged Biden’s impending rise to the presidency and called the revolt “a direct attack on the US Congress, the Capitol building and our constitutional process.” “

“We support and defend the Constitution,” said a statement from the joint chiefs, made up of the highest-ranking officers in each service. “Every act of violating the constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values ​​and oath; this is against the law. “

The chiefs also confirmed that Biden would take on the role of the 46th commander-in-chief and called on the military to reflect the nation’s ideals. The announcement came after a number of outbreaks turned out to be military veterans.

Unlike in the summer, when the Pentagon was accused of taking an overly aggressive response to protests over racial discrimination and police violence, the Pentagon was accused last week of failing to come to the aid of devastated local authorities when chaos engulfed Capitol Hill.

Capitol police and DC government officials said the Pentagon was responding slowly to urgent requests for military assistance and initially refused assistance except for a small number of guards who were watching the traffic stop. Pentagon officials, meanwhile, have accused Capitol police and DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) of failing to seek adequate assistance ahead of time and then expecting part-time soldiers to appear immediately.

Although the allegations continue, Pentagon officials are adjusting decisions for the DC National Guard for the second time in a year, hoping to provide a quick response. Unlike Jan. 6, when Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher K. Miller had to sign when additional DC Guard members were activated, McCarthy will now have the opportunity to use Guard personnel and equipment as he sees fit. from a higher level.

Because Washington, D.C., is not a state, the president acts as commander-in-chief of the DC Guard, as governors do elsewhere. According to an executive order from 1969, the president delegated this power to the Minister of Defense, who could then delegate it further. In recent history, the army secretary has acted as commander of the guard.

This was the case in June, when DC Guard members were available when uniformed federal personnel forcibly liberated crowds of protesters and a DC Guard helicopter flew dangerously low over the protesters.

After the events of June, “we had to set much tighter boundaries left and right for this type of activity next time,” McCarthy said, referring to the restrictions Congress has used to use military force this month.

The Department of Defense is leaning forward to provide everything it can, McCarthy said.

“The key for us is if a request is made for a certain ability and we can legally provide it,” McCarthy said. “We will do everything we need to do to support this discovery.”

As Trump, who is already deprived of his Twitter platform, only makes an indirect mention of his election loss, the FBI warns of intelligence that “armed protests” could occur in all 50 states as his supporters try to to keep him in office.

Michigan city officials have already asked Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) to activate the country’s National Guard ahead of planned Capitol protests. Conservative protests have rocked Michigan for months, culminating in a failed far-right plot to kidnap Whitmer.

“Michigan already had a dress rehearsal,” said Lansing City Council Chairman Peter Spadafore. “When people tell you some time ago that they will be violent, we have to trust them.”

In Washington, Gov. Jay Insley (D) has authorized 750 members of the Guard to support law enforcement operations to protect the Capitol.

Pentagon officials have suggested that additional assets of the guard may follow in the coming days. Already, as the relatively small DC Guard seeks to prepare for further violence, it is joined by colleagues from states including New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Minnesota. They are likely to stay in both Washington hotels and military facilities.

Pentagon officials said they had not received any intelligence before the Jan. 6 protest, which began with a Trump-speaking rally near the White House and ended with a breakthrough in the Capitol, to indicate that there would be a major or violent protest.

The Department of Defense does not conduct internal surveillance or threat tracking operations that do not involve the military, which means it relies on federal law enforcement.

Rejecting allegations by officials, including Bowser and Stephen Sund, who stepped down as Capitol police chief after the riot, McCarthy denied the Pentagon was holding back because of its loyalty to Trump. He said the Pentagon was responding to requests from the city and the Capitol police, who explicitly wanted a limited, unarmed role for the National Guard.

That changed abruptly when the rebels gathered at the Capitol. “When the calls started coming in, everything was forced; it was very challenging to understand, “McCarthy said. “No one could formulate what was really going on.”

When the disturbing picture began to emerge, “we were running down the hall at the Pentagon. We were trying to deal with that, “McCarthy said. “And when we were moving, we were moving as fast as possible from a cold start, without being configured to react.”

A second defense official stressed that federal law enforcement agencies are in a better position to vacate the Capitol building itself than members of the DC Guard.

“It would be a very bad thing to get the guards to try to clear these buildings,” said the second officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “If you’ve ever cleared buildings with people who don’t make a living, some very challenging things can happen.” Instead, the Guard later helped federal and local law enforcement rebuild the perimeter around the Capitol and its foundations.

Officials acknowledged the alarming current ideology in the military. The second defense official said the military was trying to tackle the problem before preparing to take office. But officials also said they would not be able to check all members of the National Guard involved for extremist accessories, as some lawmakers had demanded.

Alex Horton contributed to this report.

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