A spokesman for the Guard declined to say whether law enforcement agencies had briefed units at the Capitol on an IED threat.
“Our primary goal is to provide support to local authorities,” said spokeswoman Tracy O’Grady Walsh, noting that during the inauguration the guard mission is to provide crowd management, traffic control, parking coordination and medical and logistical support to local authorities. “Public safety is our top priority.”
Up to 20,000 guards could be stationed around DC in the coming days at the request of the DC Metropolitan Police Department and other civilian authorities. On Tuesday night, hundreds of armed guards dispatched to the Capitol ahead of lawmakers initiating another round of prosecutions against President Donald Trump.
It is not clear whether the National Guardsmen are preparing to respond themselves to potential IEDs, and the briefings on potential IEDs have left some uneasy, said the people who know the matter.
Guardsmen are trained in the use of lethal and non-lethal force, the use of protective equipment and “peeling techniques”
“The most important element in defeating IEDs is knowing what to look for, knowing where to look, and understanding how to quickly defuse or mark them for possible destruction,” the retired U.S. Army said. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling noted that IED training involves in principle “early reconnaissance of expected routes of drones and engineers and scouts, use of intelligence to plan and predict potential locations of IEDs that would cause the most damage or destruction, and interference of networks. “
An unclassified intelligence bulletin prepared by the U.S. intelligence service, obtained by POLITICO, warned that at least one right-wing extremist group, the Patriot Actions for America, “organizes and encourages a violent demonstration” on January 16 at the Capitol.
The bulletin, which relies primarily on open source information from social media and was first reported by The Daily Beast, said law enforcement is also tracking a separate “Million Militia March” planned by two other groups for the inauguration day itself and warns, that “although no civil disobedience has been confirmed, the organizers have encouraged attendees to bring weapons to the event using images of weapons on promotional material for the event. The group claims they will not attack but defend. ”