The Hawaii Army National Guard is deploying about 200 troops to Washington, D.C., to “aid in and facilitate the peaceful transition of presidential power,” Gov. David Ige’s office said today.
The citizen soldiers will arrive prior to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday and “are prepared to perform a multitude of missions in support of local law enforcement,” Ige’s office said.
State adjutant Maj. Gen. Kenneth S. Hara said the Secret Service is the lead federal agency and “we’ll be in support of the Secret Service” performing missions including crowd control, traffic control and assisting with entry and exit points.
Hara said the Hawaii Guard troops will be armed as part of a force of more than 20,000 from around the country. National Guard troops from every state and territory were requested, he added.
The National Guard always supports the presidential inauguration, Hara said, and Hawaii Guard troops have done so in the past, but the total force converging on Washington D.C. is “nowhere near” the usual number from a handful of states.
“After seeing what happened about a week ago, it’s clear that we need to send a message that that won’t be tolerated … so I’m suspecting that they are being overly prepared to make sure nothing bad happens and ensure that they’re ready based on the threat streams that they’re receiving,” Hara said.
Ige said in a news release that,“The Hawaii National Guard is prepared to support the effort in Washington, D.C., to ensure a peaceful transition of power and a smooth Inauguration Day following a free and fair election. I thank our Guard members for their dedication to protecting our democracy during these challenging times.”
The deploying soldiers are from the 1st Battalion, 487th Field Artillery, and 227th Brigade Engineer Battalion.
Hara said the National Guard Bureau emailed him Wednesday morning with the request.
“The first thing I did was notify my key National Guard leaders saying, ‘Hey, make the assumption that this will get approved and start planning now,’ ” Hara said. “And then I contacted Gov. Ige to request his approval. We had a short discussion, he approved it and then I issued the mobilization order verbally (Wednesday) around noon.”
From that time to Thursday by noon “every single one of them showed up,” Hara said. He added that, “What these guys did — I’m so proud of them.” Some had to be pulled out of civilian jobs for the duty.
Multiple C-17 cargo planes and KC-135R refueling tankers out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam are transporting the troops to the nation’s capital.
Hara said “we don’t know the exact duration” of the deployment, “but they’re prepared to stay for as long as they are needed.”
Roughly 800 Hawaii Guard personnel are still activated for COVID-19 support and the deployment to Washington D.C. will not impact the effort to support Hawaii, officials said. There are nearly 4,000 Guard members that will remain in the islands to assist with any local disasters.