Jan. 12 (UPI) -- The Joint Chiefs of Staff released a memo Tuesday calling last week's events in Washington, D.C. "a direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building, and our Constitutional process."
"The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection," the Joint Chiefs wrote.
The memo goes on to say any disruption to the Constitutional process is "not only against our traditions, values and oath; it is against the law" and that President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated Jan. 20.
"To our men and women deployed and at home, safeguarding our country -- stay ready, keep your eyes on the horizon, and remain focused on the mission. We honor your continued service in defense of every American," says the memo's closing paragraph.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff, led by Army Gen. Mark Milley, is the Pentagon body made up of the nation's top generals, and has previously avoided engaging in anything that could be considered political commentary.
Also on Tuesday, U.S. Justice Department officials announced they've opened cases on about 170 people linked to the Jan. 6 siege at the U.S. Capitol, with many facing charges of sedition carrying up to 20 years in prison.
On Monday, Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told reporters the U.S. National Guard would deploy up to 15,000 armed troops in Washington during the inauguration events.
The Guard has also installed new fencing around the Capitol, and the National Park Service has closed the Washington Monument after Inauguration Day.