At least 75,000 National Guardsmen have been called up in a historical deployment to the twin national crises in America this year -- the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest in cities across the country.
Governors in 32 states and the District of Columbia activated 32,400 National Guard members to assist local law enforcement agencies in quelling riots and looting. Meanwhile, 38,000 National Guard members continue to support civil authorities in response to COVID-19 across all 50 states, according to National Guard officials. This surpasses the 51,000 National Guardsmen called up in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“I’ve always believed and continue to believe that the National Guard is best suited for performing domestic support to civil authorities in these situations, in support of local law enforcement,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in a press conference yesterday. “I say this not only as secretary of defense but also as a former soldier and a former member of the National Guard.”
During peaceful protests in Washington D.C. this week, National Guard helicopters flew and hovered dangerously low over protestors, blasting them with rotor wash.
“I hold all members of the District of Columbia National Guard to the highest of standards. We live and work in the District, and we are dedicated to the service of our nation. I have directed an immediate investigation into the June 1 incident," Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, DCNG Commanding General said.