The Florida National Guard will mobilize 600 service members to Washington “at the urgent request of national authorities,” Maj. Gen. James Eifert announced Thursday.
There, they will serve in support of local authorities at the 59th Presidential Inauguration on Jan. 20. The 600 troops will join the thousands of service members already on the ground.
The inauguration will be the Florida National Guard’s second mobilization to the district in roughly six months. Over the summer, hundreds of Florida Guardsmen supported civilian authorities in response to riots and protests.
“They were charged with protecting life and preserving property, peace and public safety,” said Eifert, Florida’s top-ranked Guardsmen.
In Florida, meanwhile, Lt. Col. Caitlin Brown said Guard leadership has received no formal request from Gov. Ron DeSantis to be in Tallahassee in the event of civil unrest.
Notably, state capitals nationwide are on high alert after an FBI memo warned armed protests are planned at all 50 state capitols and the U.S. Capitol in D.C. The demonstrations are expected to begin as early as this weekend.
Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson on Tuesday said demonstrations are “very likely.”
“We are standing by and prepared to assist in any way if we’re called upon by the Governor,” Brown added.
Amid the seemingly continuous civil unrest and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, National Guard troop activations reached a historic high in 2020.
About 1,100 Florida National Guardsmen deployed in support of national security objectives worldwide last year. Additionally, nearly 3,000 assisted local authorities responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Florida National Guard remains in a limited role in Florida’s COVID-19 response.
Eifert noted 2020’s unprecedented demands on service members.
“I know that what you’ve been asked to do over the past year has been nothing short of herculean,” Eifert said in an address to guardsmen. “Your efforts have been unmatched, except perhaps for the patience shown by your families and employers throughout these busy and challenging months.”