WASHINGTON, D.C. –
Nearly 300 Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen joined a force of approximately 7,500 National Guard personnel from across the country supporting the 58th Presidential Inauguration Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington, D. C. Virginia Guard personnel assisted with traffic control as well as communications, medical and chaplain support, and also provided liaison officers to key military and civilian command headquarters in the area. Additional personnel from the Virginia Army National Guard, Virginia Air National Guard and Virginia Defense Force conducted mission command and sustainment support in Sandston and other locations in the state and additional troops were on standby.
“The Virginia National Guard’s support to the presidential inauguration went extremely well, and it was the result of months of planning and preparation by members of the Joint, Army and Air Guard staffs as well as the leadership of the units involved,” explained Brig. Gen. Paul Griffin, Virginia National Guard Director of the Joint Staff. “Our Soldiers and Airmen were an important part of the multi-agency team tasked with security and support, and we are extremely proud of the highly-professional way our Soldiers and Airmen conducted themselves and executed the mission.”
Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are sworn in as special deputies Jan. 19, 2017, at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. They were in place with traffic control points before the sun came up Jan. 20, and stayed on duty until well after the inauguration parade was complete.
“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.”
The Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group provided mission command for the Soldiers and Airmen operating the TCPS and were organized as Task Force 529. Other units providing personnel to the task force include the Virginia Beach-based 229th Military Police Company, the Blackstone-based 3647th Maintenance Company, the Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Company and the 192nd Security Forces Squadron from Langley Air Force Base in Hampton. The task force also includes two chaplain support teams, liaison officers, a five-Soldier medical support team and four Soldiers and Airmen providing public affairs support.
“The Soldiers and Airman of Task Force 529 are proud to have been a part of the 58th Presidential Inauguration this year,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Lutz, commander of the task force. “We learned a tremendous amount of special skills that law enforcement brings to their everyday business protecting and serving citizens. The Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service were outstanding organizations to work with, and we are extremely satisfied in supporting them during this event.”
Lutz commended the outstanding work of the task force that included Air Guard security forces, Army Guard military police, chaplain teams, liaison teams, communications support and other Army elements.
“We formed an outstanding team in a very short time and executed our mission with the highest degree of professionalism,” Lutz said. “I would gladly have those personnel in my formation in future missions.”
Soldiers from the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division provided liaison officers for incident management and coordination efforts at the Multi-Agency Coordination Center in Fairfax County, Virginia. The MACC, located at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Region 7 Headquarters in Fairfax County, is a multi-jurisdictional cooperative of agencies and includes representatives from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Virginia Departments of Emergency Management, Health and Social Services, the Virginia State Police, the Virginia Army National Guard, as well as local law enforcement from several northern Virginia localities.
The mission of the MACC is to monitor and facilitate the flow of information from multiple external sources to the various federal, state, and local agencies operating within the northern Virginia area. The 29th Soldiers on-site consisted of two teams of liaison officers, who are providing 24-hour support for the coordination and facilitation of National Guard support to various agencies before, during and immediately following the Presidential Inauguration.
“Our role as liaison officers within the MACC is to be the eyes and ears for the Guard,” said Sgt. Maj. Joel Fix of the 29th Infantry Division. “We are here to help facilitate and manage expectations against capabilities, while helping to coordinate Guard assistance to the various other agencies in the event of an incident or emergency.”
In addition to the Soldiers and Airmen actively engaged in the inauguration support mission, additional personnel were on standby or conducting training during their monthly drill weekend and would have been available if needed.
Soldiers and Airmen assigned the Blackstone-based 34th Civil Support Team were part of a multi-state team monitoring for possible chemical, nuclear, biological or radiological threats. The Virginia National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package, or CERFP, was training at Fort A. P. Hill and could have been part of an incident response if needed.
Soldiers from the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team were also training at Fort A. P. Hill and capable of providing a quick reaction force if needed to respond to a civil disturbance, and aviation crews were also on standby in Sandston and Chesterfield.
Military support by the Guard dates back to 1798 when Gen. George Washington began his inaugural journey from Mount Vernon, Va. to New York City. Local militias joined his inaugural procession as it passed through towns along the route. Once Washington arrived in New York City, a presidential escort composed of members of the regular Army, local militia units (the modern-day National Guard), and Revolutionary War veterans accompanied him to Federal Hall for the presidential oath. The National Guard has continued this tradition of inaugural support ever since.
Additional reporting by Maj. Jenny Hartsock, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs, and Sgt. Marc Heaton, 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs.