Army Will Not Screen All National Guardsmen Deploying to DC for Extremist Sympathies

U.S. soldiers with the New Jersey National Guard patrol Capitol.
U.S. soldiers with the New Jersey National Guard patrol the area near the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., Jan 11, 2021. (U.S. Air National Guard/Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

The U.S. Army will not grant a Democratic lawmaker's request to have the service's Criminal Investigation Command (CID) screen thousands of National Guard troops deploying to Washington, D.C., to find possible supporters of extremists planning to disrupt Inauguration Day.

In the aftermath of a violent breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., made the request to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy on Sunday "to ensure that deployed members are not sympathetic to domestic terrorists," according to a readout of the call.

McCarthy agreed to take "additional measures," but they do not include the massive CID effort needed to investigate the 10,000 Guard members expected to arrive in the District of Columbia this weekend, a force that could grow to 15,000 before President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.

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Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said he hadn't heard of the request, telling reporters Monday afternoon, "I am not tracking that."

The Army released a statement Tuesday addressing future steps, without detailing specifics.

"The Army is working with the Secret Service to determine which service members supporting the national special security event for the inauguration require additional background screening," according to an Army statement. "Per Department of Defense policy, all service members are trained annually on the Threat Awareness and Reporting Program (TARP), which requires department personnel to report any information regarding known or suspected extremist behavior that could be a threat to the department or the United States."

The D.C. National Guard is also providing additional training to service members as they arrive, advising them "that if they see or hear something that is not appropriate, they should report it to their chain of command," according to the statement.

"There is no place for extremism in the military, and we will investigate each report individually and take appropriate action," the statement adds.

Hours after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol -- smashing windows and destroying property -- the Pentagon authorized up to 6,200 Guard members from Maryland, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania to deploy to D.C. on federal status to maintain security through Inauguration Day.

McCarthy told Crow on Sunday that the Defense Department is aware of "further possible threats posed by would-be terrorists in the days up to and including Inauguration Day and is working with local and federal law enforcement to coordinate security preparations," the call readout states.

Hokanson announced Monday that the Pentagon has increased the authorization for Guardsmen to deploy to D.C. to as many as 15,000, but said that the Guard Bureau is currently planning for 10,000 to arrive by Saturday.

Also on Monday, state capitals across the U.S. began deploying Guard units to reinforce law enforcement after the FBI issued a warning about plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitols and in Washington ahead of the inauguration.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at

Related: Lawmaker to Army Secretary: Investigate Troops Deploying to Inauguration for Domestic Terror Sympathies

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