Pentagon approves National Guard deployment ahead of DC trucker convoy
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved hundreds of unarmed National Guard troops to be deployed in Washington, D.C., ahead of a truck convoy protest against pandemic restrictions that is expected to coincide with President Biden’s first State of the Union address.
The Department of Defense (DOD) said that Austin had approved a request that had been made by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) for assistance from National Guard members.
“The people who live, work and visit the District are part of our community, and their safety is our first mission priority” Maj. Gen. Sherrie L. McCandless, D.C. National Guard commanding general, said in a statement. “Our MPD and USCP partners have asked for our help in ensuring people can demonstrate peacefully and safely, and we stand ready to assist.”
According to the DOD, the approval will allow about 400 D.C. National Guard members to “provide support at designated traffic posts, provide command and control, and cover sustainment requirements.”
Beginning at 1 p.m. on Feb. 26, “50 large tactical vehicles” will be placed at these traffic posts on a 24-hour basis. The deployment has been approved to last through March 7.
The deployed troops will not carry firearms, take part in law enforcement or carry out domestic surveillance activities. Aircraft have not been approved for use.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby had said earlier on Tuesday that the DOD was “analyzing” the request.
“Law enforcement agencies across the National Capital Region are aware of plans for a series of truck convoys arriving in Washington, D.C., around the time of the State of the Union,” U.S. Capitol Police said last week.
Bob Bolus, the organizer of the truck convoy protest, said earlier this week that his group is planning to shut down the Capital Beltway.
“I’ll give you an analogy of that of a giant boa constrictor,” Bolus told local Fox affiliate Fox 5 on Sunday. “That basically squeezes you, chokes you and it swallows you, and that’s what we’re going to do D.C.”
Bolus said that while the protest would seek to shut the major roadway, demonstrators would plan to keep one lane open for emergency vehicles.
This planned protest would come shortly after a similar demonstration in Canada caused massive economic disruptions. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau resorted to using emergency powers to handle the demonstrators, with trucks being towed, protesters being arrested and even personal bank accounts being frozen.