Law enforcement officials have identified and removed 12 out of overall 25,000 National Guard troops in Washington over their links to extremism, officials told reporters on Tuesday.
The unidentified members ere removed from the Guard’s ranks protecting the inauguration of the 46th US president because of security precautions.
Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan R. Hoffman, National Guard Chief Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson and Washington Headquarters Services Director Thomas M. Muir, who leads the Defense Department’s presidential transition team, conducted the briefing on inaugural security efforts and plans for the transition.
Two of the 12 Guardsmen were found to have made “inappropriate comments or texts” regarding the inauguration, National Guard Chief Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson said, without giving further details on any of those who were pulled from duty.
The other 10 members were removed over “questionable behavior” found during the vetting process.
“Extremism is not tolerated in any branch of the United States military,” Hokanson said. “If there are reported issues, our leaders will address them immediately, in accordance with established department policies, and include ordered coordination with law enforcement.”
If there’s any identification or anything whatsoever that needs to be looked into, out of an abundance of caution, [the Guard] automatically pulls those personnel off the line and makes sure they’re not part of the mission set, the general said.
“And if there are any indications [of questionable behavior], we immediately address it through the chain of command or law enforcement [or] the appropriate level of agency,” he added. “But I’m not concerned [about] a large part of our organization. If you look at 25,000, we’ve had 12 identified … But we want to make sure, out of an abundance of caution, that we do the right thing until that gets cleared up.”
“I don’t want to get into the actual vetting and what partner organizations have found, but much of the information is — as the general mentioned — unrelated to the events taking place at the Capitol,” Hoffman said. “These are vetting efforts that identify any questionable behavior in the past or any potential link to questionable behavior, not just related to extremism.