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Presidential Inauguration Plans on Schedule

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2001 – Plans for the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration are proceeding on schedule despite the delay in choosing the nation's next chief executive and commander in chief, officials said.

"I think it is going very well. A lot of people are working very hard. Every day is leaps and bounds in going forward to make plans a reality," said Army Col. Stephanie Hoehne, Armed Forces Inaugural Committee public affairs director.

The committee, she said, provides support and works closely with the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies [link no longer available] and the Presidential Inaugural Committee. [link no longer available] The former manages inaugural ceremonies on the Capitol grounds while the latter, a nongovernmental group from the president-elect's political party, conducts events such as inaugural balls and galas.

Hoehne noted that her organization's work begins in earnest after each presidential election.

"We started with a core AFIC group of 200 service members from all services, and we've grown to our full complement of 700 members," Hoehne said.

In addition, she added, nearly 5,500 troops from all the services, including all the active and reserve components and the Coast Guard, will take part in inaugural ceremonial activities such as honor cordons, color guards, horse units, military bands and marching units. The program will also include choral groups in opening ceremonies, salutes to veterans and numerous event honor guards.

Hoehne noted that all parades, balls, galas and opening ceremonies are traditionally under the purview of the Presidential Inaugural Committee for each inauguration. Basically, she added, that means all the events except the actual swearing-in ceremony and a luncheon sponsored by Congress.

AFIC does much of the research and foundation-laying for inaugural events, Hoehne remarked, "but a lot depends upon the decisions of the PIC."

"Our goal was to have the parade participants notified by Christmas, and so as time marched on we became more concerned about meeting that goal. Because the PIC arrived ready to work right away, they were in position to make a lot of decisions quickly, so we were able to make that goal," she added.

The inaugural parade is slated to last two hours, Hoehne said. She noted that 1,500 military men and women from all services will line both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue to render honors as the new president passes on his way to the White House.

"However, if each unit is only five seconds late in stepping off, you add 10 minutes to the parade," she said. Any time lags caused by broken floats, recalcitrant horses and the like have an obvious ripple effect. Those possible ripples are among the several issues the AFIC and PIC people are managing behind the scenes, Hoehne said.

"Our people are assigned as people handlers, movement coordinators, and in parade management," she said.

AFIC conducted a rehearsal on Jan. 14 to validate its plans and to confirm camera angles for both civilian and military media, she noted. "It is a masterful piece of choreography to pull all this off," she said.

Hoehne noted that the armed forces and presidential committees work closely with the Law Enforcement Inaugural Committee, which is overseeing more than a dozen agencies involved in inaugural security.

"We coordinate not as a security role, but to ensure our plans do not interfere with theirs," she concluded.

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