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Military plays security support role for inauguration

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Jan. 15, 2013) -- Soldiers from around the nation will provide security assistance to the Secret Service, the FBI, the National Park Police and other law enforcement agencies during the 2013 inauguration event here, Jan. 21.

While hundreds of thousands of Americans crowd Washington, D.C., city streets this Martin Luther King Day to witness President Barack Obama's second swearing in as president, and then stay on to watch the inaugural parade, thousands of service members will be on the sidelines providing support to the lead federal agencies that have been tasked to provide security for the event.

In front of a brick building, a person in a military uniform bends over and touches a black suitcase that sits on the grass. A large dog sniffs at the suitcase. Other suitcases are nearby.
This year, the 947th Military Police Detachment at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., will provide 16 military working dog teams to support security at the 2013 inauguration of President Barack Obama. Here, Sgt. Malkia Litaker, who served with the 947th in 2009, and military working dog, Gerko, work together to find simulated explosives during a demonstration, Jan. 14, 2009, at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.

About 6,000 Army and Air National Guard members from 26 U.S. states and territories have come to the nation's capital to lend their support for the inauguration, said Air Force Maj. Shane E. Doucet, a spokesman with the D.C. National Guard Bureau.

Doucet said that while some will participate in the ceremonial portion of the events -- they will march in the parade, for instance, to represent the National Guard or their state -- many will actually be on duty pulling security assistance in support of the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department or other agencies.

Many Guardsmen will first be deputized by the Washington, D.C., police department so they can act in a law enforcement capacity in the nation's capital, and will then be tasked to pull duty at traffic control points, or on street corners doing crowd control or guiding foot traffic. Other Guard members will bring their expertise in transportation, communications and medical and logistical support to the mix.

While military members will not be the lead on any security details during the inauguration -- the Secret Service is running that effort, Guard members will show they can work as part of a team during the inauguration, and will bring with them the skills that many of them exercise back in their hometowns during their civilian jobs.

"Many of these citizen-Soldiers and Airmen serve on a police force and have experience in this field," Doucet said, adding that some Guardsmen arriving for the inauguration have participated as many as three times.

Col. Jesse D. Galvan serves as the provost marshal for Joint Task Force-National Capital Region/Military District of Washington, and is responsible for law enforcement, force protection and emergency management in the JTF-NCR/MDW. His office has been preparing for as many as 18 months for the inauguration.

While Galvan said that security for the inauguration is the responsibility of the Secret Service, his office has been coordinating for months with the Secret Service and FBI to plan for inauguration security, and to ensure that JTF-NCR/MDW personnel are ready if needed.

"In the unfortunate event that we have a catastrophic event happen, we stand ready and postured to support our local law enforcement and emergency management personnel, and to provide resources to them," Galvan said.

One such agency, he said, includes the 911th U.S. Army Technical Rescue Engineer Company out of Fort Belvoir, Va., which specializes in rescuing those trapped under collapsed buildings, such as after an explosion.

But Galvan also said JTF-NCR/MDW will actively provide military working dog support to the Secret Service at various events.

"They will be working various venues and providing sweeps," he said, including at the children's concert the night before, on the parade grounds and at the Capitol Building.

The JTF-NCR/MDW will provide about 45 dog handlers to support the inauguration. About 16 of those handlers will be from the 947th Military Police Detachment out of Fort Myer, Va.

President Barack Obama is the 44th president of the United States, and will be sworn in for his second term, Jan. 21, 2013, on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building. The U.S. military has been providing support to presidential inaugurations since 1789, when George Washington was sworn in as the first president.

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