PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island National Guard is sending troops to the nation’s capital prior to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, 12 News has learned.
Adjutant General Christopher Callahan said they’re sending at least 75 members of the R.I. National Guard to Washington over the next two days.
The troops are being called in during a tumultuous time in Washington. Things reached a boiling point last week when thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Trump was impeached for the second time during his tenure Wednesday, but unlike the first time, the proceedings were heavily guarded.
Striking images from inside the Capitol showed National Guard members sleeping on the marble floors and stairs outside the House and Senate chambers as lawmakers practically stepped over them.
It’s something Callahan described, “not so much unnerving as it is unique.”
“You see this throughout deployment, you learn a couple of things,” Callahan said. “Soldiers will do their job until they’re exhausted and they will sleep just about anywhere.”
Callahan said the troops are likely to assist with crowd control and security, among other tasks.
“What most people don’t know is that it’s been done many times,” he said. “The National Guard in the District of Columbia very small, so for the last 250-plus years, the inauguration has had some level of external support.”
“We’ve gone down to support the inauguration before, but of course, this is the first time we’ve gone down with this level of publicity, concern and essentially the atmospherics from the last week or so,” he added.
Back home, Callahan anticipates the National Guard being deployed to the State House to protect against any potential threats locally, but said he’s unsure to what capacity since the R.I. State Police is leading the state’s response plan.
The Massachusetts National Guard is also expected to send “a few hundred” troops to Washington, according to Gov. Charlie Baker.
“We’ve had, and I would imagine this is true for many states, we have had an ask from Washington to support a fairly significant request for guard personnel in our nation’s capital and we’re currently processing that,” Baker said.
Massachusetts hasn’t officially confirmed whether the troops are going, since Baker said they are still discussing the logistics.