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Nebraska Guard — Task Force Husker — in D.C. for 'historic event'
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Nebraska Guard — Task Force Husker — in D.C. for 'historic event'

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Tens of thousands of National Guard troops are pouring into Washington, D.C. to help with this week's inauguration, and the FBI is vetting each and every one of them. A number of the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 had ties to the military. So this is the federal government's way of proactively trying to sniff out any possible extremist sentiment within the Armed Forces. "So the question is, Is that all of them or are there others?"Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said to an AP reporter over the weekend, "So it's clearly something we need to be conscious of inside the entire formation, let alone men and women that may be assigned to this this operation here in the Capitol."The military screens its own members on a regular basis, so these FBI checks are really just additional layers of security for this specific deployment, the inauguration. This type of vetting usually involves running names through databases and watch lists, and so far, no troop has been red-flagged, according to McCarthy. But if anything alarming does end up popping up, such as terrorism related concerns or involvement in previous investigations, then, the chief of the National Guard Bureau says that person would either be dealt with by the chain of command or handed over to law enforcement.

They are Task Force Husker, 273 members of the Nebraska National Guard who are in Washington to help provide protection for the Capitol and the White House during this week's inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

"Pretty quiet, pretty locked down, pretty calm" so far, Lt. Col. Jeremy Smith of Papillion said Monday evening during a telephone conference call after a day of duty on the streets of downtown Washington, D.C.

The troops represent part of a quick-reaction force that is ready if things turn ugly or dangerous on or before Inauguration Day on Wednesday.

"All roads are blocked off and there is no traffic" near the Capitol, Smith said. And the Nebraska soldiers have had no interaction with the public.

"We're not carrying lethal weapons at this time," he said, but the Guard force will be ready to quickly respond "if something bad happens."

Small elements are carrying lethal ammunition now, he said. 

So far, he said, it's been "long days" with soldiers on duty for 12 hours a day and sleeping in hotels.

Smith said that there have been "background checks on just about everybody" in order to be sure there are not soldiers on duty who might be sympathetic with the kind of armed insurrection that occurred at the Capitol earlier this month.

That precaution was directed by the FBI to guard against insider threats during the inauguration ceremonies.

The Guard troops have been deputized as police officers and deputy U.S. marshals in carrying out their duties this week.

"It's definitely an historic event," Smith said. "We are proud to support it."

Smith said he has previously been deployed to Iraq and Kuwait.

The Nebraska National Guard has deployed 303 soldiers and airmen to Washington, including the 273 who are providing law enforcement support.

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