Most civilians would be forgiven if they believed that when you join the National Guard, you’re vetted for fitness, patriotism, and duty to country, and that you wouldn’t have to be re-vetted for patriotism and duty prior to an assignment.
But National Guard members being assigned to the inauguration this week received another layer of scrutiny, just to make sure they are not one of the insurrectionists they would be guarding against in the nation’s capital.
Late in 2020, Alaska Guardsmen were asked via email if they wanted to volunteer for the assignment to D.C. to take part in the events around the Inauguration. That was before America witnessed the citizen siege on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
About 80 of them volunteered, and it appears most of them are on their way to DC on Sunday, Jan. 17.
“The roughly 25,000 National Guardsmen deployed to the U.S. capital to ensure President-elect Joe Biden is able to be sworn in peacefully went through an additional background check to weed out any whiff of domestic extremism,” Major Gen. William Walker told a national security reporter from DefenseOne.com. (Italics ours). Walker, pictured above, is the 23rd commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard.
The extra layer of security is more of a deep dive into guardsmen’s backgrounds than when they initially enlisted, he said, describing it as “another layer” of security above and beyond the continuous monitoring of the force.
That likely means poking around into social media activity of guardsmen, or social clubs, and memberships.
Update: Associated Press is reporting that the FBI vetted all guard members before allowing them to go to D.C.
The vetting process, spurned by worries from defense officials, was confirmed by Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, according to AP.
”We’re continually going through the process, and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,” McCarthy is quoted as saying. “The question is, is that all of them? Are there others? We need to be conscious of it and we need to put all of the mechanisms in place to thoroughly vet these men and women who would support any operations like this.”
One guardsman likened it to sending all Japanese-American fighters in World War II to Italy because of the perception they could not be trusted.
Members of the National Guard, unlike those in the active duty military, do not relinquish their First Amendment rights, and so many of them may still express their opinions on social media platforms.
Must Read Alaska reached out to members of the Guard, who said they had never before seen additional screening on political grounds.
Walker may demand more screening, but it’s up to Alaska Maj. Gen. Torrence W. Saxe to accept the task and the purity test conditions with it. Saxe is the Adjutant General of the Alaska National Guard.
It’s unclear if Saxe was told of the extra screening that would be applied. Must Read Alaska has requested a comment. This story will be updated with his comments.