The buses rolled Friday morning from Florida to Washington D.C. But this time, instead of protestors, it is soldiers and airmen from the Florida National Guard on their way to provide security. We spoke to one of the company commanders on the way.
Six hundred men and women of the National Guard packed up over the last couple of days and are heading off to make some history.
“We have been mobilized to move up to the Capitol to Washington D.C. in preparation of the inauguration,” Captain Alexander Emrich, Florida National Guard.
There, members will join more than 20,000 other National Guard troops to provide security in the Capitol and in the District of Columbia.
“I think that we take it very seriously, what we’re here to do, especially with what’s going on in our culture,” Emrich said. “I think that being able to do this mission means a lot to everyone.”
Florida National Guard will carry weapons, which is not routine for domestic missions, and members received additional training. It’s called defense support of civil authorities training.
“We know what to do. We know how to keep people safe, and we know how to de-escalate the situation,” Emrich said. “And also be there and, and we’re also we’re here for a support role.”
Capt. Emrich expects to have his troops man a lot of blockades, keeping people in or out of certain areas. They’ll fall under the command of the Washington D.C. National Guard for this mission.
Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey has asked the governor to deploy the National Guard ahead of inauguration day.
Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order on Friday activating the Florida National Guard and directing them to coordinate and support the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in its efforts to support state and local law enforcement. The executive order will be in effect Jan. 24.
Ahead of the confirmation from the governor’s office, all days off for the police had been canceled, and federal, state and local authorities were preparing security plans.
Emrich and his fellow National Guard troops hope their deployment is quick, unlike the many overseas deployments they’ve had in the last few years.
“Hopefully, hopefully, the inauguration happens, everything’s peaceful, and we try to just come back here soon after the inauguration,” Emrich said.