CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - With just days until the presidential inauguration, around 650 South Carolina National Guardsmen and women are in Washington D.C. supporting law enforcement.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Jones says the SC National Guard has been called to help during presidential inaugurations in the past, but it has only been a fraction of the number of men and women deployed this year.
“Our guardsmen that we have sent in the past have been significantly smaller than now, but this is a different type of inauguration,” Jones said. “The security level in the focus on security is different than past rotations, but everything we do up here is in support of civil authorities.”
The main role the task force has is helping law enforcement with the infrastructure needed and security checkpoints.
Following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Jones said the district looks different from years past as the FBI warns of armed protests are being planned in all 50 state capitals and in the nation’s capital for the days leading up to the inauguration.
“A lot of security checkpoints, a lot of businesses have taken actions to protect their property,” Jones said. “But I will say this, you still see a spirit of Washington DC of excitement. Everywhere we go in what we do, the people of D.C. have thanked us for being there.”
The task force headquarters for the team in Washington D.C. is currently in Mount Pleasant to coordinate with leadership both at the Capitol and at home.
“We want to thank our resilient families and our gracious employers who allow our guardsmen to come off their jobs and leave their homes and come up here and answer the call,” Jones said. “We’re proud to say we’re from South Carolina. A lot of guardsmen from the Lowcountry area who are up here and serving state and nation, they truly are Americans at their best.”
The Associated Press is reporting that the FBI is currently vetting all National Guard troops to ensure there no inside attacks are being planned.
Jones said the South Carolina units are taking part in the vetting process this week.
“I think it’s important that we be a part of that vetting process,” Jones said. “We are gladly submitting to the vetting process and we again feel comfortable about the soldiers that we have brought to this mission.”
Jones said they do not know how long the troops will stay in the district, but they are prepared to meet any needs before or after the inauguration.