SACRAMENTO, Calif. - One thousand members of the California National Guard stand at the ready at the State Capitol in Sacramento. The troops were deployed in response to FBI warnings about potentially violent protests through Inauguration Day.
"One of the principles that I certainly hold so dear about the democratic process, and being an American, is that peaceful transfer of power," said Colonel Rob Wooldridge.
Colonel Wooldridge is the task force commander for the mission at the State Capitol. He's in charge of organizing the group's support of the CHP and local law enforcement in Sacramento. The police presence has also been ratcheted up after the siege of the U.S. Capitol.
"We’re focused here around the Capitol grounds, we actually have some other state property where we're helping too," said Col. Wooldridge. "We’re going to stay here as long as the CHP needs us."
Colonel Wooldridge reports things have been quiet and calm -- he hopes it stays that way. Troops fortifying DC and Sacramento will make for an inauguration unlike any other, but the colonel said the core of this mission is something they're well trained for.
"This security mission that we’re on now, it isn’t very unique," said Col. Wooldridge. "Again, we’re trying to keep the peace. And it really doesn’t matter the crowd. This time around may be different from the last time around, we’re crowd-agnostic."
In Washington D.C., 12 National Guard members have been removed from inauguration security - two of them for possible links to right-wing extremist groups.
"We have no tolerance for that, no tolerance in our ranks for anyone that does not hold their oath seriously," said Colonel Wooldridge. "We take an oath to the Constitution, not to any one party or person in particular."
Colonel Wooldridge reminds people these troops are part of the community; men and women who immediately put their civilian lives on hold when called to defend democracy.
"The community can feel safe that the National Guard is out here to let them exercise their rights, whatever those are: right to walk down the street, right to peacefully protest or to sit at home and watch the inauguration."