The Pentagon said Tuesday it is considering a request to deploy the National Guard to provide assistance ahead of trucker protests that could halt traffic around the nation’s capital as soon as this week.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the department received a request for Guard support from the U.S. Capitol Police and the D.C. government, but had not yet decided to approve the request.
“The Department is analyzing a request for assistance from the US Capitol Police and the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency,” Kirby said in a statement. “Those agencies have asked for National Guard personnel to provide support at traffic control points in and around the District to help the USCP and DC government address potential challenges stemming from possible disruptions at key traffic arteries.”
“No decisions have been made yet to approve these requests,” Kirby added.
Several trucker convoys protesting coronavirus restrictions are slated to begin arriving in the D.C. area this week and continue into early March. The protests come after truckers in Canada occupied the capital city of Ottawa for three weeks to oppose vaccine mandates, which ended in widespread arrests and towing by police.
The Pentagon statement did not specify the number of Guard troops that had been requested.
Deployments of the D.C. National Guard fall under the Pentagon leadership, which late last year streamlined the activation process following a review ordered by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. The change allows Austin to directly approve urgent D.C. Guard deployments, along with mobilizations that would involve participating with civilian law enforcement. The move came nearly a year after the Jan. 6 insurrection, which saw the Pentagon criticized for the timing of deploying the D.C. Guard to the Capitol.
The Capitol Police have also been preparing for a potential protest — especially with the State of the Union coming up on March 1. Department officials briefed aides on the House Administration and Senate Rules committees last Friday, and the Capitol Police closed some roads surrounding the Capitol as well.
The USCP has largely declined to comment on specific preparations. The department said in a statement late Friday the restoration of a temporary fence around the Capitol was part of “ongoing discussions” related to State of the Union security, but it stressed a final decision had not yet been made.
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