WASHINGTON — The Utah National Guard has been on the ground in Washington, D.C. since the weekend, helping prepare the nation's capital for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
The military has a long and proud tradition of being nonpartisan.
“A successful mission for us is a transition of power where nobody is injured,” said Major Mangum of the Utah Army National Guard. (The National Guard asked FOX 13 not to reveal the first name's of military personnel.)
Mangum is one of two National Guard soldiers we spoke to Friday as they departed the state on a KC-135 Stratotanker directly to D.C.
“Task Force Utah that came out here, we are integrated with the New York National Guard,” Mangum said. “They know their mission; they are confident in their training.”
Around 350 national guard troops are currently in the capital from the state of Utah, joining about 20,000 others — which is different from past times when Major was deployed in Washington.
“When we were here with the demonstrations going on in June, I think there was four, maybe five thousand troops from the different states,” he said.
However, that was a much different deployment as there was a lot more face-to-face interaction between protesters and National Guard troops.
“There were some very tense interactions,” Mangum said.
Mangum added this type of mission is also much different from his previous foreign deployments.
“Overseas, you're dealing with people that aren’t American. Here, you're dealing with fellow Americans who have the same constitutional rights,” he said.
Twelve U.S. Army National Guard members have been removed from the inauguration security mission after they were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups, but officials say none of the Guard members removed were from Utah.
So far, things have been going smooth, and Mangum says local D.C. residents have welcomed their Guard unit with open arms — even giving them coffee, donuts, pizza and other food.
And for Mangum and his troops, they are confident that Wednesday will be peaceful and they are looking forward to witnessing the inauguration of a president.