Up to 20,000 Guardsmen, many armed, will now help with inauguration security

LUIS MARTINEZ
·2 min read

The security preparations for next week’s presidential inauguration increased yet again Wednesday with now up to 20,000 National Guardsmen authorized to provide security at the U.S. Capitol and around Washington, D.C., for next week's ceremony, according to a Defense Department official.

The ramp-up in the number of Guardsmen in the nation's capital means there could be four times as many American military service members in the city than there are in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

There are now 2,500 troops in each of those countries.

PHOTO: Members of the National Guard are given weapons before Democrats begin debating one article of impeachment against President Trump at the Capitol, in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2021. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
PHOTO: Members of the National Guard are given weapons before Democrats begin debating one article of impeachment against President Trump at the Capitol, in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2021. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

MORE: Trump impeachment live updates: House debates ‘incitement of insurrection’ charge

The Guardsmen, many now displaying weapons, are working in shifts to provide round-the-clock security both inside the Capitol and around the perimeter of the Capitol grounds

PHOTO: Members of the National Guard rest in the Capitol Visitors Center, Jan. 13, 2021, in Washington, D.C., ahead of an expected House vote on impeaching President Donald Trump for a second time. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Members of the National Guard rest in the Capitol Visitors Center, Jan. 13, 2021, in Washington, D.C., ahead of an expected House vote on impeaching President Donald Trump for a second time. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

In a startling image, National Guardsmen, in between shifts, were seen sleeping with their M-4 rifles on the floors of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday morning as the House was about to begin a historic impeachment debate.The sight of the sleeping, armed U.S. troops was jarring for Capitol Hill employees and reporters, but a defense official told ABC News that the sight is not uncommon for deployed troops taking breaks in between long security shifts.

PHOTO: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland, walks past members of the National Guard as he arrives at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 13, 2021, ahead of an expected House vote impeaching President Donald Trump. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland, walks past members of the National Guard as he arrives at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 13, 2021, ahead of an expected House vote impeaching President Donald Trump. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Previously, up to 15,000 Guardsmen had been authorized to assist with inauguration security with 10,000 to be in place by this weekend.

The official said the increase in the number of Guardsmen is due to additional requests from the Secret Service, the FBI, and U.S. Capitol Police.

PHOTO: National Guard members assembly in the Capitol Visitor's Center on Capitol Hill before Democrats begin debating one article of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 13, 2021. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
PHOTO: National Guard members assembly in the Capitol Visitor's Center on Capitol Hill before Democrats begin debating one article of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 13, 2021. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

The increased number of Guardsmen are coming from states across the country and are expected to be in place by this weekend, said the official.

The National Guardsmen providing security around the U.S. Capitol area have now been authorized to be armed after Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy approved a request from civilian law enforcement agencies on Tuesday night.

PHOTO: TOPSHOT - A Capitol police officer stands with members of the National Guard behind a crowd control fence surrounding Capitol Hill a day after a pro-Trump mob broke into the US Capitol on Jan. 7, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: TOPSHOT - A Capitol police officer stands with members of the National Guard behind a crowd control fence surrounding Capitol Hill a day after a pro-Trump mob broke into the US Capitol on Jan. 7, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Additional Guardsmen who will be assisting local police in Washington D.C. on city streets providing traffic control assistance will be unarmed.

PHOTO: A security fence surrounds the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 8, 2021. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: A security fence surrounds the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 8, 2021. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images, FILE)

There are currently 6,600 National Guardsmen in the Washington D.C. area.

Up to 20,000 Guardsmen, many armed, will now help with inauguration security originally appeared on abcnews.go.com