RICHMOND – The Virginia National Guard had approximately 1,000 personnel on the ground in Washington D.C. as of Jan. 9, and additional service members will join them in the coming days to assist civilian law enforcement with security operations.
In total, the VNG plans to provide about 2,000 personnel to join a force of National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from neighboring states expected to reach 6,200 by the end of the weekend.
The Soldiers and Airmen will assist in protecting property and providing a safe environment for citizens to exercise their right to peacefully assemble and protest. The VNG personnel are scheduled to be on duty through the Presidential Inauguration on Jan. 20.
“Once again, our Soldiers and Airmen left their full-time jobs and loved ones to answer the call of duty to help keep their fellow citizens safe,” acknowledged Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, Adjutant General of Virginia. “I am incredibly proud of how quickly and safely our personnel responded, and they have effectively integrated into supporting the civilian law enforcement security plan. We owe a special thanks to our families and employers because we couldn’t conduct our mission without their support.”
Governor Ralph Northam authorized the VNG support after it was requested from the mayor of the nation’s capital. DOD and National Guard Bureau officials asked multiple states to identify units able to support law enforcement and the Washington, D.C. National Guard. In addition to Virginia, National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York have responded.
VNG personnel began mustering the evening of Jan. 6, and the first groups of Soldiers and Airmen began supporting the security effort the following day. Additional troops continued to arrive throughout the weekend. They Virginia troops will remain under the control of the governor, per Title 32, 502 (f) orders for up to 31 days. Civilian law enforcement officers are responsible for the safety and security of all personnel, and the National Guard will provide assistance as requested.
“We greatly appreciate the support from the entire National Guard team across the region to respond to law enforcement officers who needed help, and we are proud of our Guard members who supported the lead agencies in this mission,” said Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy in a news release Jan. 8.
The news release also explained the DOD system is structured to require permission from the Secretary of Defense for out-of-state National Guard units to enter the national capital.
As VNG personnel are contributing the security effort in Washington, additional Soldiers and Airmen continue to support COVID-19 testing across the state and assisting the Virginia Department of Health with planning for administering vaccines.