Pritzker Sends 500 Illinois National Guard Members To D.C.

Dan Shalin
·2 min read

SPRINGFIELD, IL — A little over three weeks after an angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, the mission to protect Washington, D.C. from extremists continues. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that soldiers from Illinois will be part of this ongoing effort.

Approximately 500 soldiers from the state were called to duty by Pritzker, who was responding to a request from the U.S. Department of Defense. The soldiers will come primarily from the Illinois National Guard, with a small group from the Illinois Air National Guard Airmen. They are expected to arrive in Washington, D.C. by the beginning of next week, and remain there on duty until mid-March.

"The U.S. Department of Defense has asked Illinois to assist federal and local agencies in this continued effort," Pritzker said in a statement. "Major General (Rich) Neely and I are ready to ensure that the state of Illinois continues its proud legacy of protecting our democracy."

Pritzker continued: "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."

Illinois National Guard members also had been deployed during the inauguration of President Joe Biden last week, and Pritzker said approximately 50 members of that group have volunteered to return for this mission. According to the Governor's Office, the Illinois Army National Guard's Chicago-based 108th Sustainment Brigade and the North Riverside-based 198th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion will provide most of the troops Illinois will send to Washington.

The Illinois National Guard will join a force of approximately 7,000 National Guard members from around the country in helping federal and local agencies preserve the peace in the nation's capital.

Pritzker activated the forces under U.S. Title 32, which leaves them under his authority with all costs paid by the federal government.

The Governor also used this provision to activate National Guard members to support the state's ongoing COVID-19 vaccination effort. Pritzker said 325 guard members had been activated for that mission already, with more to join in the coming weeks. The guard's role in vaccine distribution will not be affected by the security mission in Washington, Pritzker said.

This article originally appeared on the Across Illinois Patch