Illinois sending National Guard troops to stay on D.C. security

Chronicle Media

U.S. Air Force members from the 183d Wing, in Springfield, and the 126th Air Refueling Wing return from inauguration support duty in Washington, D.C., to Scott Air Force Base on Jan. 25, 2021. The Illinois National Guard members assisted in security, logistic and administration roles at the nation’s capitol city. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Mr. Ken Stephens)

At the request of the U.S. Department of Defense, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has activated approximately 500 Illinois National Guard members in support of the continued security mission in Washington, D.C.

The mission in Washington, D.C. will not impact the Illinois National Guard’s ability to perform the vaccination distribution mission, Prtizker’s office said, with 325 members of the guard already activated to carry out that mission and hundreds more to come online in the coming weeks.

“The U.S. Department of Defense has asked Illinois to assist federal and local agencies in this continued effort, and Major General Neely and I are ready to ensure that the state of Illinois continues its proud legacy of protecting our democracy,” said Pritzker in a written release on Jan. 28. “Ultimately, we must root out the dark forces of racism, white supremacy and disinformation that have created this moment, but until we do that, our extraordinary troops will deploy with honor.”

The Illinois Army National Guard soldiers, along with a small contingent of Illinois Air National Guard airmen, are expected to remain on duty in the nation’s capital until mid-March.

While Illinois National Guard members who deployed for the Presidential Inauguration have since returned to Illinois, approximately 50 members of that mission have volunteered to return for this mission.

The Illinois Army National Guard’s Chicago-based 108th Sustainment Brigade and its subordinate battalion, the North Riverside-based 198th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, will provide the bulk of the Illinois National Guard force for the Washington, D.C. mission.

“We are deploying these forces in support of civilian law enforcement based on threat-levels against the U.S. Capitol. These threats were assessed by the FBI and other federal agencies,” said Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, the Adjutant General of Illinois and Commander of the Illinois National Guard. “Our soldiers and airmen are committed to the defense of both our nation and our state. We have asked a lot of them in the last year and each time these men and women have answered the call and upheld their oath to defend and support the U.S. Constitution. I could not be more proud of these Soldiers and Airmen.”

The Illinois National Guard forces will join a force of approximately 7,000 National Guard members from throughout the United States in assisting federal and local agencies with safety and security throughout Washington, D.C.

In February that force will draw down to 5,000, which will include the Illinois National Guard service members who will stay on until mid-March.

The Illinois National Guard troops will be in Washington, D.C. by the beginning of next week.