MANSFIELD — Members of the Ohio Air National Guard’s 179th Airlift Wing’s Security Forces have been activated to support state and local authorities with potential civil unrest related to the presidential inauguration.
The number of airmen activated and their destination was not announced. It’s not known if the the airmen will be armed.
“For operational/force protection, I would not be able to go into details about numbers, movements or equipment,” said Stephanie Beougher, public information officer for the Ohio Adjutant General’s Office.
“General duties will be to assist law enforcement authorities with protecting lives and property of citizens in Ohio, while ensuring people’s rights to demonstrate peacefully,” Beougher said.
The governor’s proclamation allows for the state deployment to continue until the assistance is no longer needed, Beougher said.
This week, DeWine activated 580 members of the ONG to be available for use at the Ohio Statehouse and around the state between Jan. 14 and 21 as federal law enforcement warned of potential for armed protests in the nation’s capital and at the capitals of all 50 states.
In addition, 200 additional Guard members will be deployed in a federal status to Washington D.C. to support civil authorities with security-related missions throughout the presidential inauguration, with the scope and duration of their support to be determined by the U.S. Secret Service.
“People have the right to protest,” DeWine said. “They do not have the right to be destructive. They do not have the right to hurt other people. So there will be enough people there from law enforcement in the National Guard.
“But people have every right to protest. They have every right to do it peacefully. We welcome them (if) they want to do that. Whatever they want to protest about, that’s — 365 days a year, people have a right to do that. First Amendment does not go on vacation. But we also saw what happened at the U.S. Capitol and, you know, we’re very concerned,” the governor said.
Airmen from the 179th Security Forces Squadron practice fire and maneuver operations October 17, 2020, at the 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield. (Ohio Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Marc Wilson)
During their normal work, the 179th’s Security Forces are usually tasked with protecting personnel, aircraft and property. In civilian terms, they are the wing’s police force.
Just like the 179th’s C-130s transport aircraft, the wing’s Security Forces have been deployed around the world, including a six-month effort to support Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat it posed to Iraq, Syria, and the wider international community in 2018-2019.
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