LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas National Guard announced Thursday it is sending 500 soldiers and airmen to Washington to assist with security for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The guard said Gov. Asa Hutchinson approved the deployment, which will begin on Jan. 17. The guardsmen will return to Arkansas before the end of the month.
The FBI has warned of armed rallies in Washington and at all 50 state capitols in the days leading up to Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Hutchinson has directed additional state police at Arkansas’ capitol but has not activated the guard in response to any potential rallies there.
“We’re sending some of our very best to support Inauguration Day activities,” Maj. Gen. Kendall Penn, Arkansas National Guard’s adjutant general, said in a statement. “Priority No. 1 is to protect people and property, and our Guardsmen are trained very well to do just that.”
The Guard’s mission in Washington will include assisting with traffic control, security and crowd management at the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial and other locations. The Guard said it will work alongside several other states’ National Guard units, the D.C. Metro Police, the U.S. Park Police, Capitol Police and the Secret Service.