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Army and Air National Guard to Take
Part in Inauguration Parade, Security
By Master Sgt. Bob Haskell / National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va. , Jan. 7, 2005 – A couple of hundred Army and Air National Guard troops will march in the 55th Inaugural Parade. Several hundred more are prepared to help the United States Secret Service screen people attending the festivities. And many more will be standing by, hoping their services will not be needed, when George W. Bush is inaugurated for his second term as President of the United States in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20.

Approximately 2,200 Guard members will participate in one way or another in the quadrennial rite of passage that salutes and celebrates this country’s chief executive for the next four years.

Guard members from the District of Columbia and five states – Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts – are expected to take part in some capacity in the inaugural festivities on the 19th and 20th.

“We are ready, willing and able to deter, defend against, and defeat terrorist activities,” said officials about how the Guard is prepared to support the first presidential inauguration – the swearing-in ceremony, the parade, and the balls – since terrorists attacked this country on Sept. 11, 2001.

Virginia and West Virginia are prepared to provide 500 screeners if the Secret Service needs that kind of help to handle the hundreds of thousands of people expected to flock to the nation’s capital. The Massachusetts Army Guard is geared up to send a couple of medevac helicopters and crews to Washington, ready to assist the DC Guard.

Security will be tight. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has designated the inauguration as National Special Security Event. The U.S. Secret Service is the lead federal agency, responsible for keeping the president and vice president free from harm. The Guard is primed to support that effort and to help protect the public attending the events.

“The National Guard is actively preparing and training to perform its homeland defense roles by exercising its quick reaction forces and weapons of mass destruction-civil support teams before and during the inauguration period,” a Guard spokesperson explained.

Two National Guard units – one Army, one Air Force – from the District of Columbia will perhaps be the most visible as they march in the inaugural parade from the

U.S. Capitol to the White House along historic Pennsylvania Avenue on the afternoon of Jan 20.

Each unit will consist of about 100 marchers, said a spokesman, in what is a longstanding tradition for members of the District of Columbia National Guard to honor their commander in chief.

Meanwhile, Guard members in all 54 states and territories will maintain 24-hour joint operation centers to support the homeland security effort.

Guard members in West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania will be conducting training exercises for quick reaction forces, 22-member civil support teams and 100-member Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or High Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Packages (CERFPs) in conjunction with the inaugural ceremonies.

The quick reaction forces are equipped and prepared to respond to real-world attacks or threats of attacks at the request of a governor or a military combatant commander 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are fully self-sustained, and they can conduct operations for 72 hours without being resupplied.

They consist of approximately 180 people formed into rapid reaction force forces that can respond within four hours, and they have another 600 people capable of reinforcing local, state or federal agencies within four to 24 hours.

The civil support teams are trained to check out disaster sites for deadly agents that could harm emergency responders.

The CERFPs have been trained to help civil authorities provide medical aid for and decontaminate large numbers of victims of weapons of mass destruction.

Inaugural parades and official balls honoring U.S. presidents date back to 1809, when they were first held for James Madison, the fourth president.

The intent 196 years later is to have National Guard elements ready to roll if they are needed to help safeguard the celebration or to respond to an emergency during the second inauguration for George W. Bush, the 43rd U.S. president.
Last Updated:
11/30/2005, Eastern Daylight Time
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