by Steve Marshall, National Guard Bureau
The day before Donald J Trump raises his hand to take the oath as the 45th president of the United States, National Guard members from all over the nation and territories rehearsed their roles to support the 58th Presidential Inauguration.
At last count, more than 7,500 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen were expected to serve with the specially created Joint Task Force – District of Columbia.
The personnel represent 44 states, three territories and the District of Columbia, according to the Joint Task Force – District of Columbia.
Among the responding states was Virginia, where a leader echoed remarks offered by other commanders.
“Supporting the presidential inauguration is another opportunity for the Virginia National Guard to build the partnerships that are so critical to success in domestic operations,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. William, the adjutant general of Virginia. “Working with other National Guard states and territories and area law enforcement to help make sure the inauguration events are a safe, positive experience for everyone who attends helps us prepare and gain experience that would be essential for effective response operations in the future.”
Guard units will join the District of Columbia National Guard to supplement security, communication, medical evacuation and other support to civilian authorities during the inauguration. Some personnel will help pedestrian and vehicular traffic navigate the congested streets of the nation’s capital.
Soldiers and Airmen will not have arrest powers, but will serve as eyes and ears for law enforcement.
“The Kentucky National Guard is proud to be a part of such a historical event,” said Brig. Gen. Scott Campbell, Kentucky’s assistant adjutant general. “This mission serves as yet another example of the unique role of the National Guard, our interoperability with civilian agencies and our unbridled service to the nation.”
Established every four years, the Joint Task Force-District of Columbia (JTF-DC) is a National Guard organization that coordinates National Guard support to local and federal civilian authorities for the presidential inauguration.
These civilian authorities include, but are not limited to, the U.S. Secret Service – the lead agency – U.S. Capitol Police and the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.
JTF-DC also provides command and control for the thousands of National Guard Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen from many supporting states and territories to support civilian authorities with traffic control, crowd management, transportation, and communication, medical and logistical support, among other duties at the request of civil authorities.
National Guard participants will not be armed. “Arming our National Guard Soldiers and Airmen is beyond the scope of this Joint Task Force’s mission,” according to a fact sheet from the Joint Task Force – District of Columbia. “Our primary objective is to provide support to local authorities performing details such as crowd management and traffic control.
The security for visitors to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration is the ultimate responsibility of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Park Police and the U.S. Secret Service. The public’s safety is given the highest consideration.”
National Guard support for presidential inaugurations dates to April 30, 1789, when the forerunners of today’s National Guard joined U.S. Army and Revolutionary War veterans to form an honor detail and escort Gen. George Washington to his inauguration ceremony in New York City from Mount Vernon, Virginia. At the time, the seat of government was in New York.