The governors of five of New England's six states have said that they have received requests to send National Guard members to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20.
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont have said they'll be sending Guard members. Rhode Island said it is not sending any of its soldiers.
The head of the National Guard said at least 10,000 troops will be deployed in Washington, D.C., by Saturday, and an additional 5,000 could be requested from other states. The increase in requests for Guard members this week comes as officials brace for more, possibly violent protests surrounding Biden's inauguration.
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Massachusetts announced Thursday that Gov. Charlie Baker has approved an order that will activate up to 500 National Guard personnel for deployment to Washington, D.C., to support the inaugural activities. They are expected to deploy in the coming days.
"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 had said Wednesday.
The governor said Massachusetts could have declined the request if it felt it needed the Guard members here at home. But he said the request was for "an eminently manageable number" so that ultimately wasn't necessary.
As a precautionary measure, Baker signed an additional order activating up to 500 members of the Massachusetts National Guard to support state and local law enforcement in the Commonwealth. The FBI has said there have been no specific threats regarding the State House or any other Massachusetts locations.
"I think it's incredibly important for the country that this transition be smooth and as uneventful as possible," said Baker.
"As of right now, we are not in receipt of any substantiated or credible information with respect to violence associated around any of our four state capitols or any other federal buildings," said Joseph Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston office.
"Allow people to exercise their first amendment rights to protest peacefully,” Boston Police Commissioner William Gross said earlier this week. “We’re not going to accept the ignorance of destruction and violence.”
Gov. Chris Sununu on Wednesday authorized a request from the National Guard Bureau to send 50 New Hampshire National Guard members to Washington for the inauguration.
“Ensuring a peaceful and orderly transition of power is of paramount importance to our nation,” Sununu said in a statement. He said the guard will be deployed “to protect and defend democracy.”
The guard will be sending soldiers from the 160th Engineer Detachment and airmen from the 157th Security Forces Squadron. They will be taken to Washington, D.C., on a KC-46 refueler based at Pease Air National Guard Base.
In addition, the New Hampshire Air National Guard is also providing three KC-46 refuelers to transport military personnel and equipment from other states to Washington. Guardsmen expect to be in D.C. until Jan. 24.
"We’re an all-volunteer force who swore an oath to the Constitution to support and defend it. The peaceful transfer of power in our nation is what it's all about, that’s what we serve, that’s why we deploy, that’s why we fight," Maj. Gen. David J. Mikolaities, adjutant general of the New Hampshire National Guard, told NBC10 Boston and NECN.
"I'll speak on behalf of our soldiers and airmen: it’s truly just an honor to be a part of it," he added.
As many as 200 Maine National Guard soldiers are going to assist in the presidential inauguration, state officials said.
The decision, authorized by Gov. Janet Mills, is in response to the National Guard Bureau’s request for extra help. Maine is providing 175 to 200 soldiers.
“The National Guard has been supporting inaugural activities since the founding of our country, and Maine is no exception,” said Maj. Gen. Douglas Farnham, Maine’s adjutant general. “We’re proud to join our brothers and sisters from across the country to support the peaceful transition of power and ensure the safety and well-being of our fellow Americans.”
The guardsmen and -women are expected in D.C. this weekend, arriving on Air National Guard planes flown out of Bangor.
“It’s sending a signal to the folks that may have other intentions that we’re not going to put up with it,” Maine National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Douglas Farnham said.
And of the sight of Mainers helping to protect the Capitol, Farnham said, “It’s not being done by some people that are faceless federal entities ... these are your neighbors who are going to D.C. to make sure there’s a peaceful transition of power as the Constitution requires.”
Lamont said he will deploy the members at the request of U.S. National Guard officials.
The deployment will include members of the Connecticut National Guard's Military Police and two patrol explosive-detection dog teams that are trained for police patrol activities and explosive detection, Lamont said.
“The State of Connecticut stands ready to help ensure the peaceful transition of power and protect our democracy,” he said.
The governor has also placed a C-130H aircraft and crew on alert status if they are needed.
The Vermont National Guard said Thursday that it will be sending approximately 100 of its soldiers to support operations in Washington ahead of the inauguration. The Vermont Soldiers are predominantly from 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain).
“We swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America,” said Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard. “We are honored to play our part in securing one of the most time honored traditions in American history: the Presidential Inauguration.”
The Guard said it worked with Gov. Phil Scott to ensure Vermont could assist in the effort without impacting its support of the state’s COVID-19 response or other state needs.
“After the tragic events at our Capitol on January 6, we must do all we can to secure a peaceful transition of power on Inauguration Day," Scott said. "I am grateful to the brave men and women of the Vermont National Guard for their service and doing their part during this deployment to protect our republic and the democratic values we hold dear.”