WASHINGTON D.C., DC — In one week, D.C. became militarized as thousands of National Guard members are now stationed around the District. And D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee predicts 20,000 National Guardsmen will be deployed to the Nation’s Capital by Inauguration Day.
According to a Military Times story, that’s more than twice the number of U.S. troops currently in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
On Wednesday the roads surrounding D.C.’s business district were blocked off and a seven-foot non-scalable fence could be seen around many of the country’s federal landmarks.
Having thousands of armed service members deployed to the nation’s capital is something retired Major General Vinny Boles said is the last resort in terms of military decisions.
“We've done this before but it's sort of last resort,” Boles said. “It's not a tool we reach for immediately out of our kitbag. We want to use a lot more things before we do that.”
Boles said there have only been a couple of instances Washington, D.C. has seen a military showing of this size; President Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration, various protests against racial injustice, and during the Vietnam War tensions.
Boles said a peaceful transfer of power is democracy’s biggest mission, and that’s the mission of the troops deployed to D.C.
“The mission of these troops you have in D.C. is threefold, as I understand it. First, secure the Capitol for the inauguration, so the inauguration of a peaceful transfer of power can occur. Second, deter individuals who would want to stop that or bother that. So, any of these proud boys or other groups or anything else that see that show of force and think this isn't a good idea, we shouldn't do this. And then finally third if, deterrence fails to stop them, is to stop them.”
Boles said with so many military members deployed to the District, it’s ultimately a show of force.
“We don't want a fair fight. This is not going to be a fair fight. Every one of these young men and women that's out there right now sleeping on the concrete floor or the stone floors in the Capitol, they volunteered to be here. They don't get to pick their missions, they get to pick how they execute them, and they will make us very proud.”
As Boles watched events unfold in D.C., he said never thought he would witness something like this happening on American soil. He said it’s something he would expect from a developing nation's country, never the United States of America.
"We are living in a time that never thought we'd see. We're living in a time when the chief executive officer of the executive branch of the federal government incited a group of citizens to attack another branch of the government. That's never happened. We have never seen times like these, and that is significant and that is severe.”