National Guard told to prepare for Capitol protesters armed with improvised explosive devices as inauguration nears

Weapons are distributed to members of the National Guard outside the U.S. Capitol on January 13, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Weapons are distributed to members of the National Guard outside the U.S. Capitol on January 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. Photo credit Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

National Guard units were told this week to prepare for protesters descending upon the U.S. Capitol during the days surrounding Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), Politico reported Wednesday, citing two Guardsmen briefed on the matter.

Officials believe that the IEDs placed at the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee offices in Washington last week were not an isolated incident -- adding to the severity, is that the person who planted those devices has not been caught.

Up to 20,000 National Guard members will be deployed to Washington.

IEDs are the only concern: officials believe the protesters will be heavily armed in general. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy has already authorized members of the National Guard who will be at the U.S. Capitol to carry M-9 handguns. Previously, they only carried protective gear.

National Guard spokesperson Tracy O'Grady Walsh declined to say whether units were told of the IED threat.

"Our primary objective is to provide support to local authorities,” O’Grady Walsh said, explaining it's main duties during the inauguration is to provide crowd management, traffic control, parking coordination and medical and logistical support to local authorities. "The public’s safety is our top priority.”