by Matthew Cox
National Guard members deployed in Washington, D.C., will wear special black identification vests to avoid being confused with law enforcement wearing U.S. military-style uniforms as the city tenses for demonstrations as Congress meets to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Pentagon officials voiced concern this summer that the public misidentified law enforcement personnel and federal agents wearing the Army‘s Operational Camouflage Pattern, or OCP, and matching tactical gear as soldiers during violent demonstrations to protest the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis police custody.
Late Tuesday night, the District of Columbia National Guard released photos of the uniform its members are wearing as they support law enforcement in the city. Guard personnel will be dressed in Army OCP, with the addition of black vests displaying the service member’s name and rank, the words “U.S. Army” and the D.C. flag on the front; and the words “D.C. National Guard” on the back.
“The black identification vest is not body armor nor a tactical vest,” according to a D.C. Guard news release. “It is the traditional uniform worn by the D.C. National Guard members in multiple domestic operations including Presidential Inaugurations, the COVID-19 pandemic response, the 4th of July celebration and the ‘anniversary March on Washington’ in the last year.”
Last summer, thousands of Guard personnel from across the country deployed to D.C., with some units wearing full tactical gear and carrying M4 carbines. In some cases, Guard members and police units standing together behind shield walls looked very similar.
“We just wanted to make sure there is no confusion on what we would be wearing,” Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Craig Clapper, spokesman for the D.C. Guard, told Military.com
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