National Guard soldier shares experience of guarding the Capitol ahead of inauguration

WASHINGTON (KTRK) -- In an unprecedented move in our nation's history, there are now 25,000 National Guard soldiers in D.C. for president-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. That's the most-ever for a presidential inauguration.

ABC13 spoke with a National Guard soldier to find out what the experience is like for those called to protect our nation's capital.

"It's a little surreal that we are close to this building with weapons, working with and alongside Capitol police, D.C. Metro police, and then other states' national guard," Delaware National Guard soldier SFC Julian Skinner said. "It's a little surreal, and I am sure we will all look back months and years from now and say, 'Wow we did that.'"

With 25,000 troops activated in D.C., that's over 12,000 more U.S. soldiers than are currently stationed in Italy and just 1,000 soldiers shy of the number of troops currently stationed in South Korea.

By comparison, in 2017 there were 8,000 National Guard troops deployed to D.C. for President Donald Trump's inauguration. That's 17,000 less than Biden will have present on January 20.

In 2009, former President Barack Obama had 10,000 troops and then only 6,000 troops for his second term in 2013.

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Derick Waller has more on the preparations from Lower Manhattan.

Skinner says his men were activated last Thursday and were pulling their first shift guarding the Capitol less than 24 hours later.

He says information is constantly changing and being shared between companies, Capitol police and D.C. Metro police, who are all working together to pull perimeter security.

As of now, he says things are quiet due to the curfew put on the city, and he hopes it stays that way.

"I don't want to say I am hoping that we are bored, but I am hoping that it's not a lot going on. I am hoping that there are not a ton of protestors," Skinner said. "Obviously we are down here to do a job. That's what we were called to do, but a show of force against U.S. citizens is not something that anyone encourages, or it's not something that we want."

In total, 21 states have sent soldiers to provide protection and support.

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Several states have posted online asking people not to send donations for the troops to the Capitol.

While they say the kindness is appreciated, they don't have enough man power to collect, sort and distribute the donations.

Skinner says with everything going on, it's nice to hear people are still showing support for the soldiers there to do a job they were called up for.

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