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Pentagon Marching Where It Once Feared to Go: Armed Troops on the Streets

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International interference which may be masked as home unrest is one other level of concern. If the protesters can’t get close to the inaugural occasions, Division of Homeland Safety officers are frightened they might flip to cyberinterference, in an effort to black out Mr. Biden’s first phrases to the nation, and the world. There are related issues about infrastructure assaults, maybe removed from the inaugural occasions, that may convey a way of chaos, at a second that Mr. Biden is asking for a restoration of order.

The choice Tuesday night time by the Military secretary to arm a number of the Nationwide Guard troops deploying to Washington got here after a gathering with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California. Ms. Pelosi, in response to congressional workers members, demanded that the Pentagon take a extra muscular and proactive posture to the inauguration than it did final week, when Protection Division officers waited till Trump loyalists overtook the Capitol earlier than deploying further troops. And even then, these troops that confirmed up didn’t carry deadly weapons.

This contrasts sharply to the Nationwide Guard response over the spring throughout the Black Lives Matter protests. Many states known as up the Nationwide Guard troops, and in Washington, two army helicopters, in a present of drive, terrified protesters in Chinatown, producing winds much like a tropical storm.

The overwhelming majority of army forces in Washington can be Nationwide Guard. However a small variety of elite commandos from the Joint Particular Operations Command, a secretive command based mostly at Fort Bragg, N.C., can be available, as they’re for each inauguration, to assist counter any terrorist assault or different nationwide emergency, particularly any involving nuclear, chemical or organic weapons.

Pentagon officers specific deep fear about protests which are deliberate for the inauguration. Some 16 teams — a few of them saying they are going to be armed and most of them made up of hard-line supporters of Mr. Trump — have registered to stage protests in Washington, officers mentioned.

One Protection Division official mentioned legislation enforcement businesses are planning for a variety of outcomes, together with a worse-case situation through which folks with firearms attempt to assault dignitaries, “suicide sort plane” attempt to fly into the Capitol’s restricted airspace and even remote-controlled drones that might be used to assault the group.

A second Pentagon official expressed fear a couple of repeat of the pipe bombs that had been positioned in Washington final week. The official mentioned legislation enforcement businesses had been additionally frightened that some protesters had threatened to indicate up on the properties of lawmakers, or to focus on their households.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting.

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