Utah National Guardsmen Deploy To DC For Added Security
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Approximately 350 soldiers with the Utah National Guard arrived in Washington, D.C. Friday evening to bolster security for the presidential inauguration next week.
They are mentally preparing for potential violence they may face with fellow citizens.
Although it’s an unusual mission, the guardsmen said they are excited.
The entire country saw the frightening images from the riots at the Capitol last week but, the two guardsmen KSL spoke with said they’re not frightened about potential violence. They will rely on their training and their leadership.
“We’re here as National Guardsmen to answer the call, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” said Specialist McArthur with the Utah National Guard.
It’s the first deployment for the specialist, who said it’s an honor to put on the uniform. “We put on this uniform to serve you guys,” he said. “To keep this country safe.”
They’ll assist local police to safeguard the inauguration and the days leading up to that event Wednesday.
“I took an oath when I joined the military to protect against enemies foreign and domestic, and we’re here,” said McArthur. “I have confidence in my training and my leaders. I don’t feel afraid for me or anyone there.”
They expect to be called upon wherever they are needed.
“More than anything it’s an honor. It’s a real opportunity to go out,” said Major Mangum, a member of the guard for 18 years.
They will be part of a force of more than 20,000 National Guard members from across the nation.
Many from Utah have been battle-tested over the last two decades with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I think we’ve got really seasoned, and responsible, mature soldiers,” said Mangum. ‘We all understand the chain of command, really well. So we respond to the people above us and we trust them and their leadership.”
They know it could be one of their most difficult missions facing other American citizens, but Mangum learned tactics in Washington during riots in June, that will be important tools in the days ahead.
“I saw how National Guard soldiers interacted with people who were angry. You find common ground. You find opportunities to deescalate the situation,” said Mangum.
Both guardsmen are optimistic it will be peaceful.
“I’ve never been to an inauguration,” said Mangum. “So, this will be quite an experience, something I’ll be able to come home and tell my kids about.”
They expect to come home shortly after the inauguration but, they may also be kept out there longer if they are needed.
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