The services members were removed “out of an abundance of caution” after federal law enforcement authorities discovered “questionable behavior” or “inappropriate comments or texts,” a spokesman said.
The behavior doesn’t necessarily have to involve extremism and could even be unrelated to the inauguration events, Chief Pentagon Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said.
The U.S. Department of Defense will conduct follow-up investigations to determine whether those flagged need to be removed from the military, officials said.
As part of standard procedure, the Defense Department and FBI have been vetting all 25,000 or so National Guard troops deployed to the nation’s capital to keep Wednesday’s inauguration safe and secure.
“While we have no intelligence indicating an insider threat, we are leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital,” Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said.
“If there’s any indication that any of our soldiers or airmen are expressing things that are extremist views, it’s either handed over to law enforcement or dealt with the chain of command immediately,” he said.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said authorities are exercising all due diligence – including asking commanders to look for and immediately report any potential problems.
“[We’re] taking second [and] third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,” McCarthy said.
Joining the National Guard deployment are 2,750 active troops, most of whom serve ceremonial purposes – marching bands and honor guards, for instance.
Of that group, however, 750 specialize in handling chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive material, disposing of explosive ordnance and providing trauma response, the Pentagon said.
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