Planned Trucker Convoy Prompts D.C. National Guard to Ready for Activation

As an American version of the Canadian convoy of truckers protesting COVID restrictions and other issues prepares to set out on a trip to Washington, D.C., the city's National Guard has been ordered to prepare for deployment to assist with security and traffic control.

The Capitol Police has also requested assistance from the National Guard in preparing extra security for the upcoming State of the Union, in addition to the request sent by the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency for assistance with "traffic control support," according to the Military Times.

The deployment, if it is approved by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, would be one of the first uses of the process put in place late last year to simplify the steps necessary to deploy the Guard after the Pentagon faced significant criticism for not sending Guardsmen to assist with security at the Capitol in response to the January 6 Capitol riots.

The new policy came after Austin ordered a review into the Guard's deployment procedures following January 6. It allows the secretary of defense to approve deployment of the troops within 48 hours, or when they will be deployed to assist in law enforcement tasks like making arrests or in the case of protest, traffic and crowd control.

"The Department is analyzing a request for assistance from the U.S. Capitol Police and the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency," Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement sent to Newsweek. Those agencies have asked for National Guard personnel to provide support at traffic control points in and around the District to help the USCP and D.C. government address potential challenges stemming from possible disruptions at key traffic arteries. No decisions have been made yet to approve these requests."

D.C. National Guard troops were reportedly notified of a "potential activation" between February 22 through March 7 or after, the Military Times reported. The start date was later changed to February 23 as Austin's decision on the deployment could be delayed because of the ongoing developments in Ukraine, the Times said.

"Law enforcement agencies across the National Capital Region are aware of plans for a series of truck convoys arriving in Washington, D.C., around the time of the State of the Union," the Capitol Police said in a statement. "As with any demonstration, the USCP will facilitate lawful First Amendment activity."

The convoy of truckers emulating protests that have spanned the last several weeks across Canada is set to depart from California on Wednesday, making several stops along the way to arrive in Washington, D.C., in the days following President Joe Biden's State of the Union address, scheduled for March 1.

Newsweek has also requested comment from the D.C. National Guard about the reports of the potential deployment.

Update 2/22/22 1:45 p.m. EST: This story has been updated with additional context, as well as statements from the Pentagon and Capitol Police.

Washington DC National Guard Trucker Convoy Protest
The Washington, D.C., National Guard has been requested by local agencies and the Capitol Police to prepare for a deployment to assist in dealing with the upcoming protest of truckers from across the U.S. set to arrive in the city next week. Above, members of the D.C. National Guard stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as demonstrators participate in a peaceful protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, on June 2, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee/Getty Images