A dozen National Guard troops in Washington were yanked from duty because of inappropriate comments and other issues, officials confirmed Tuesday.
Two of the 12 were pulled because of “inappropriate comments or texts,” Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the National Guard chief, told reporters at the Pentagon.
One of those was flagged within the chain of command while the other was informed on by someone over a tipline.
The other 10 were flagged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which was vetting the entire 25,000-force that descended upon the nation’s capital from across the country ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“If you look at 25,000, we’ve had 12 identified and some of those they’re just looking into. It may be unrelated to this,” Hokanson said.
“We work very closely with law enforcement. And if there’s any identification or anything whatsoever that needs to be looked into, out of an abundance of caution, we automatically pull those personnel off the line, and make sure that they’re not part of the mission set. And in certain cases, we make sure that we get them sent home,” he added.
The names of the 12, or any other identifying information such as their home states, were not shared.
The FBI was vetting through a criminal history check and a review a civilian database.
“We’re not taking any chances. Anything flags, there’s any reason that somebody’s name is brought to the attention of the command? They’re being removed from the line. We’ll ask questions later,” Pentagon press secretary Jonathan Hoffman said.
Officials confirmed Monday that all 25,000 National Guard members in Washington were being vetted by the Department of Defense and the FBI.
“This type of vetting often takes place by law enforcement for significant security events,” acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said in a statement. “However, in this case, the scope of military participation is unique. The D.C. National Guard is also providing additional training to service members as they arrive in D.C. that if they see or hear something that is not appropriate, they should report it to their chain of command.”
Major General William Walker, the head of the D.C. National Guard, said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that members were screened before leaving their states and screened again before being placed on patrol in Washington.
“It’s all about the background. So, a regular background check is enhanced with more screening, more details and it’s layered so the FBI is part of it, the Secret Service is part of it and once they are certain that there’s no insider threat then that soldier, guardsman, or airman is given a credential,” he said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, decried the vetting on Monday, warning that he would never send Texas National Guard troops to Washington again “if they are disrespected like this.”
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.