Nation's capital being turned into 'fortress Washington' ahead of inauguration

Vice President Mike Pence visited National Guardsmen at the Capitol.

January 14, 2021, 6:41 PM

With just days until the inauguration next Wednesday, and in the wake of last Wednesday's assault on the Capitol, security around the nation's capital city has been ramped up to a level not seen in years.

Some are calling it "fortress Washington."

The 7-foot non-scalable fencing around the Capitol has been topped with razor wire, and behind it, hundreds of armed National Guardsmen.

PHOTO: Barbed wire is installed on the top of a security fence surrounding the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 14, 2021, ahead of the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden on Jan. 20.
Barbed wire is installed on the top of a security fence surrounding the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 14, 2021, ahead of the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden on Jan. 20.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

On Thursday evening, Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit to the Guardsmen now protecting the building, thanking them for "stepping forward for your country."

"It's been my great honor to serve as your vice president, and I want to thank you for your service," Pence said.

PHOTO: Vice President Mike Pence speaks to National Guard troops outside the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 14, 2021, in Washington.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks to National Guard troops outside the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 14, 2021, in Washington.
Alex Brandon/AP

Preliminary plans called for the National Mall to be closed to the public on Inauguration Day for security reasons and streets were blocked off with concrete barriers throughout the city to protect against potential violence.

PHOTO: A recently constructed security fence near the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2021.
A recently constructed security fence near the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2021.
Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Businesses were boarded up as well.

PHOTO: A boarded up office building is seen Jan. 12, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
A boarded up office building is seen Jan. 12, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

A Department of Defense official confirmed to ABC News that as many as 20,000 National Guardsmen have been authorized to provide security for next week's ceremony.

PHOTO: Members of the National Guard try to get some sleep inside the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2021.
Members of the National Guard try to get some sleep inside the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA via Shutterstock

That number was upped after additional requests from the Secret Service, FBI and U.S. Capitol Police.

PHOTO: Workers install barbed wire on security fencing surrounding the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 14, 2021 in Washington, D.C.
Workers install barbed wire on security fencing surrounding the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 14, 2021 in Washington, D.C.
Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a news conference Wednesday that she has reiterated her request to the Department of the Interior to cancel or refuse public gathering permits from now through Jan. 14.

After the assault on the Capitol, Bowser requested the heightened security posture to begin six days earlier than originally scheduled amid threats of violent protests.

ABC New's Luis Martinez and Dee Carden contributed to this report.

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