The military may allow the National Guard in Washington D.C. to carry firearms and batons ahead of the inauguration, according to a report from the Associated Press, citing the Secretary of the Army.

Restrictions on the use of force are currently under review by Defense leaders, as they brace for more protests surrounding the January 20 inaugural.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told The AP Friday that any changes will be determined by the intelligence gathered in the coming days about potential threats. But he said they are looking at allowing troops to carry their M-4 rifles or 9 mm Berettas, and he will know more in a day or two.

The review reflects concerns about the safety of the Guard troops in the wake of the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, and would also consider the legal restrictions that prohibit the use of the military for domestic law enforcement. Allowing troops to carry deadly weapons would run up against deep-seated fears about the optics of anything suggesting that U.S. military forces were being used against Americans on U.S. soil. –Associated Press

“We’ll be looking at the intelligence, and make a determination over the next day or so,” said McCarthy, adding “It’s just going to require us to get better intel, and then we’ll have to make a risk assessment.”

Military officials changed the National Guard’s use of force mandate after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had a meltdown in June, following the June deployment of National Guard troops in response to BLM riots over the summer.

“We are concerned about the increased militarization and lack of clarity that may increase chaos,” wrote Pelosi, adding “I am writing to request a full list of the agencies involved and clarifications of the roles and responsibilities of the troops and federal law enforcement resources operating in the city.”

The letter resulted in a number of changes – including that the National Guard will not carry weapons and would be limited to tasks that prevent them from having direct contact with protesters – some of whom may be violent.

McCarthy also said they expect better intelligence on protests and crowds.

He complained earlier this week that the intelligence on the potential crowd size Wednesday was “all over the board” — ranging from about 2,000 to 80,000. He said Friday that there are new plans to have more frequent meetings with law enforcement to go over the intelligence reports so that law enforcement is better prepared.

He added that he has already allowed one change. As of Thursday evening, he said Guard members in D.C. are being allowed to wear their ballistic helmets. That decision comes amid news that a U.S. Capitol Police officer died as a result of injuries he got during the riot. Officer Brian D. Sicknick, 42, was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, two law enforcement officials said. The officials could not discuss the ongoing investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Associated Press

According to McCarthy, there will be 850 National Guard members on the Capitol Grounds performing 12-hour shifts, as well as 90 additional Gardsmen at various checkpoints. DC Park Police have also requested a separate 150-person rapid response force, which is likely to be approved.

Republished from with permission

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