Biden inauguration: Ring of steel in Washington DC on Donald Trump's final day in office

19 January 2021, 13:41 | Updated: 20 January 2021, 01:25

Troops on the ground in Washington DC ahead of the inauguration
Troops on the ground in Washington DC ahead of the inauguration. Picture: Twitter/NickHarperFSN

By Asher McShane

Thousands of National Guard troops and police were deployed in Washington DC ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Tuesday was Donald Trump's final day in office and US defence officials have warned they are concerned about a possible insider attack from members of the armed forces involved in securing President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

The FBI has individually vetted all of the 25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington for the event.

It comes after the deadly January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol by pro-Trump rioters which saw five people die in scenes of unprecedented violence.

Thousands of troops are being deployed in Washington DC
Thousands of troops are being deployed in Washington DC. Picture: PA

US Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy warned commanders to be on the lookout for any problems within their ranks as the inauguration approaches. He said there has been no evidence of any threats, and officials said the vetting had not flagged any issues.

About 25,000 members of the National Guard are streaming into Washington from across the country - at least two and a half times the number for previous inauguration ceremonies.

The "Field of Flags" placed on the ground on the National Mall
The "Field of Flags" placed on the ground on the National Mall. Picture: PA

The FBI screening is in addition to standard US military screening. The first troops began deploying in Washington DC more than a week ago.

The FBI vetting involves running peoples' names through databases and watchlists maintained by the bureau to see if anything alarming comes up

That could include involvement in prior investigations or terrorism-related concerns, said David Gomez, a former FBI national security supervisor in Seattle.

Threats against Mr Biden's inauguration have been fuelled by supporters of President Donald Trump, far-right militants, white supremacists and other radical groups.

Many believe Mr Trump's baseless accusations that the election was stolen from him. Many service personnel are believed to have been involved in the disturbance at the Capitol on January 6.

The dead included a Capitol Police officer and a woman shot by police as she climbed through a window in a door near the House chamber.

General Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, has been meeting with Guard troops as they arrive in DC and as they gather in central Washington.

He said he believes there are good processes in place to identify potential threats.

"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.

The bulk of the national guard members will be armed.

Organisers described it as a "national priority" that the inauguration passes without incident.