Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller said in a statement on Monday that the Department of Defense has not received any intelligence indicating a potential insider threat to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20.
However, Miller added that the department is “leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital,” noting that all National Guardsmen deployed to Washington, D.C. will be vetted.
“This type of vetting often takes place by law enforcement for significant security events. However, in this case the scope of military participation is unique,” Miller said. “The D.C. National Guard is also providing additional training to service members as they arrive in D.C. that if they see or hear something that is not appropriate, they should report it to their chain of command. We appreciate the support of the FBI in assisting with this task and for each of the more than 25,000 Guardsmen who answered their Nation’s call and rapidly deployed to the [North Capital Region].”
The announcement comes after defense officials expressed concerns over the potential for an insider attack, following a riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 by pro-Trump protesters that left five dead and resulted in dozens of arrests.
The FBI warned in a memo earlier this month of potential plans for protests staged in all 50 state capitals which could occur before, on and after Inauguration Day.
While members from across the military were at President Trump’s rally prior to the riot, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told the Associated Press it’s unclear how many were there or who may have participated in the breach at the Capitol.
The U.S. Army said in a statement on Sunday that it would work with the Secret Service to determine if any service members on hand needed additional background screening. As part of the Threat Awareness and Reporting Program, military personnel are required to report “any information regarding known or suspected extremist behavior that could be a threat to the department or the U.S.”
“Any type of activity that involves violence, civil disobedience, or a breach of peace may be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or under state or federal law,” the Army’s statement read.
The Associated Press reported that the Secret Service is in charge of event security. In addition to the National Guard and the FBI, Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, U.S. Capitol Police and U.S. Park Police will also be involved in the inauguration ceremony.
The bulk of the National Guard members at the inauguration will be armed.
McCarthy said that Guard units are going through repeated drills to practice when and how to use force and how to work quickly with law enforcement partners, including “constant mental repetitions of looking at the map and talking through scenarios with leaders so they understand their task and purpose, they know their routes, they know where they’re friendly, adjacent units are, they have the appropriate frequencies to communicate with their law enforcement partners.”
Law enforcement officers would make any arrests.
He noted that the key goal is for America’s transfer of power to happen without incident.
“This is a national priority. We have to be successful as an institution,” said McCarthy. “We want to send the message to everyone in the United States and for the rest of the world that we can do this safely and peacefully.”
Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin, Edmund DeMarche and the Associated Press contributed to this report