On January 06, a mob of Trump supporters were able to overwhelm police and storm the U.S. Capitol, resulting in the deaths of five people. Ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration, no chances are being taken with security and much of central Washington is ringed with security checkpoints, razor wire, fencing and concrete barricades. The moves to enhance security came as a result of the embarrassing breach at the Capitol but also due to FBI warnings of armed protests in all 50 states, along with direct threats against Washington.
The level of trepidation was highlighted by moves to vet thousands of military personnel amid fears of an insider attack with at least two arrests made in connection with events at the Capitol. The scale of the security effort becomes evident when the number of National Guard members in Washington is compared to the number of troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. At least 25,000 National Guard members are being sent to D.C. from all over the U.S. and that’s five times the troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan combined where approximately 2,500 service members are still serving, according to a recent Department of Defense announcement. 900 U.S. troops are aso reportedly still on the ground in Syria.
Historically, inaugurations have always seen heavy security but Washington has never experienced an operation on this scale before. Around 8,000 Guard members were deployed for Trump’s inauguration ceremony in 2016 in addition to the regular Secret Service and law enforrcement presence. Up until now, protests that occurred across the country since the end of last week have been sparsely-attended and calm, raising hopes that events in Washington will pass without incident. As impressive as the security arrangements are, however, they do graphically illustrate the scale of division in the U.S. today as the country prepares for the first term of President Biden.
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