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Vermont National Guard heads to D.C. for inauguration

Published: Jan. 16, 2021 at 7:20 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 16, 2021 at 9:12 PM EST
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COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont soldiers are joining thousands of U.S. troops in Washington, D.C. to provide security for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.

This call for increased security comes after a mob of President Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s victory.

More than 100 Vermont National Guard soldiers are deploying to D.C. on Sunday morning to assist the D.C. National Guard during the presidential ceremonies. Roughly 26,000 troops from all 50 states will be there to support and defend American democracy.

Colonel Brey Hopkins, the commander of the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, says soldiers are ready to defend the nation’s capital city.

“Lots of times, as with combat or any other type of mission, we honestly hope we don’t get called but when we do get called, we’re ready,” he said. “This will be an overwhelming show of force that allows us to ensure the peace and the peaceful transition of power which our country is known for.”

One of the soldiers going on deployment says the National Guard has a long history of supporting inaugurations and they’re ready to respond to this year’s call for backup.

“We’re here to serve our nation’s call. If the nation needs us to stand up and be a bit more prepared this year than others, than that’s what we’re trained for and that’s what we’re ready to do,” he said.

Commander Larry Doane says soldiers routinely go through domestic operations training and are well-prepared to fulfill the duties of this mission.

“We’re also uniquely trained for area security missions which is a lot like what we’re being asked to do in D.C., so this is not out of the wheelhouse for the squadron,” Doane said. “This is something these soldiers train for all the time and will adapt to very quickly.”

Hopkins says the preparation for foreign and domestic missions is similar but the mindset is different.

“Let’s be honest. When we go down to Washington, D.C., the individuals that we will be securing and protecting and preventing harm and damage from being done— they’re all U.S. citizens by and large,” he said. “So that is the major difference and that requires a completely different mindset for our soldiers when they go into that environment.”

Soldiers will depart from Vermont early Sunday morning.

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