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National Guard Provides Unprecedented Support for Inauguration

By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2009 – During the nation’s 56th presidential inauguration today, some 9,300 members of the National Guard will be working to provide transport, traffic control and medical and logistical support, as well as performing in the parade.

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Gen. Craig McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, visits with Guardsmen assigned to Joint Task Force 29, which is led by the 29th Infantry Division, Jan. 19, 2009, at a temporary operations center established at Fort Belvoir, Va. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill

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It is the Guard’s largest contribution of manpower to an inauguration in its 372-year history.

"The scope is incredible," said Gen. Craig McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, during an interview the day before the inauguration.

McKinley visited Guardmembers on duty around the nation's capital on the eve of the inauguration.

"My takeaways today are the professionalism, the breadth and depth of our organization, the fact that we have multiple states involved," McKinley said. "It gives me great hope and promise that [the inauguration] will be both successful and safe."

Guardsmen from Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia have joined those from the District of Columbia to form Joint Task Force-District of Columbia to support the inauguration. It is the first time the Iowa National Guard is supporting an inauguration, providing 1,000 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division.

Additional Guard support is as follows:

• Members of the 257th Army National Guard Band are among 250 troops on duty from the District of Columbia. The band is providing ceremonial and inaugural ball support.

• More than 2,000 National Guardsmen and women from Maryland and Virginia are working in support of their states' lead law enforcement and transportation agencies to assist with traffic flow into and out of the District of Columbia.

• For the first time Iowa is supporting an inauguration: The Iowa National Guard is sending about 1,000 Soldiers from

• More than 200 members of the New York National Guard are helping with communications and traffic control.

• In addition to providing 400 soldiers and airmen, the West Virginia National Guard is providing specialized homeland defense and security units, fixed wing and rotary aircraft and mobile satellite communications equipment in support of federal and local agencies to help manage the large crowds expected at the event.

• Tennessee's contribution includes Airmen from the 228th Combat Communications Squadron and the 118th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and Soldiers from the 117th Military Police Battalion.

The National Guard Bureau participates in Armed Forces Inaugural Committee efforts while coordinating the support provided by the National Guard with federal and state civil authorities. A joint coordination center at the Bureau in Crystal City, Va., is being staffed around the clock through the inauguration.

The Guard has a long history of supporting presidential inaugurations. Local militia units marched with George Washington as he proceeded to his first inauguration on April 30, 1789, according to Guard historians. (Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill is a member of the National Guard.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMembers of the National Guard's 29th Infantry Division coordinate activities of some of the 9,300 Guardsmen who are supporting the 56th Presidential Inauguration from a temporary operations center established at Fort Belvoir, Va., Jan. 19, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill  
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