Support missions for 57th Presidential Inauguration help Va. Guard prepare for future operations

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Manassas-based 266th Military Police Company operate traffic control points in Washington, D.C. in support of the Presidential Inauguration in the early morning hours of Jan. 21, 2013. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — More than 600 Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen joined a force of approximately 6,000 National Guard personnel from 35 states and territories supporting the 57th Presidential Inauguration Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington, D. C. and Northern Virginia. The support from the Virginia Guard helped maintain the safety and security for the event, but it also helped prepare the Virginia Army National Guard, Virginia Air National Guard and Virginia Defense Force to be able to anticipate requirements and rapidly respond for future known and no-notice events.

“Our support to the inauguration was outstanding,” said Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. “I think anytime you can get Soldiers and Airmen on the ground, working together in teams to do their job, it is always helpful. We know and understand our jobs from a concept standpoint, but when you can actually get on the ground and execute there is a lot of good training that goes on. There is no substitute for that.”

Virginia Guard personnel assisted with traffic control and provided communications and chaplain support, and an additional 100 personnel conducted mission command and sustainment support in Sandston and other locations in the state. Additional aviation and specialized chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high- yield explosives response forces were also on stand by in case they were needed.

“Anytime we employ National Guard forces in accordance with their skills be it for military support to civil authorities or overseas, it strengthens their overall Soldier and Airmen skills,” said Col. James Ring, Virginia National Guard director of joint operations. “The opportunity to perform this mission helped National Guard members individually but also increases the collective skills of the unit.”

Ring explained that missions like this provide an opportunity for junior leaders to operate in a new environment from weekend drills and annual training, and it gives noncommissioned officers, lieutenants and captains the opportunity to hone their leadership skills in a real world setting.

This inauguration support mission differed from the same event conducted four years ago with the further maturation of the Virginia Guard’s joint staff, Ring explained. A relatively new concept in 2009, the joint staff has developed their processes and procedures over multiple hazardous weather events in the commonwealth over recent years. In addition to greater experience with personnel and processes, the Virginia Guard has also increased the technology capabilities at its Joint Operations Center in Sandston. With state-of-the-art communications systems and digital tracking capabilities, senior leaders were able to maintain awareness of unit locations and mission status. Along with all the high tech equipment, there are also more traditional map boards and status charts to serve as back ups in case of any glitches with technology.

Detailed mission planning for the inauguration began more than a year before the event, and the coordination involved multiple local, state and federal organizations. Virginia Guard planners worked with key leadership from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Transportation and other state agencies.

“Working with these different state agencies, we were able to anticipate the requirements for support of the inauguration, and then Virginia state government took the lead in establishing coordination with VDEM Region 7,” Ring explained. “The success of the inauguration mission validates that we effectively anticipated those requirements.”

In addition to staff personnel operating in the Virginia Guard JOC and Virginia Emergency Operations Center, the Virginia Guard also had a strong presence in FEMA’s Multi Agency Coordination Cell in Fairfax along with VDEM, VSP, VDOT and multiple state and local law enforcement and emergency response organizations.

“The opportunity to work in a truly joint interagency environment strengthens the collective ability for us to respond at the local, state and federal level,” Ring said.

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Virginia Guard units employed during the 57th Presidential Inauguration:

– Manassas-based 266th Military Police Company, Virginia Beach-based 229th Military Police Company,  Fredericksburg-based Headquarters Company, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion and 192nd Security Forces Squadron from Langley Air Force Base operated traffic control points in Washington, D.C.

– Leesburg-based Company C, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team assisted Arlington Police with traffic and pedestrian control in the vicinity of the 14th Street and Roosevelt Bridges in Arlington

– Virginia Defense Force personnel provided Incident Management Assistance Teams in Arlington and Sandston

– Two chaplains and two chaplain assistants provided religious support in Washington, D. C., and Northern Virginia

– Virginia Guard communication experts from Sandston-based Joint Force Headquarters Communications Section and the Hampton-based Company C, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team provided critical digital communications capability to National Guard forces providing security in Washington, D. C. with the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability

– 200th Weather Flight provided weather forecasters in several locations

– Fort Pickett-based 34th Civil Support Team and Petersburg-based CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package were on standby for possible response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high- yield explosive event

– Air crews from the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Battalion were on standby to provide rotary wing aviation support

– Liaison officers were stationed at operations centers in Washington, D. C., George Mason University and Fairfax

– Sustainment personnel staffed the Logistics Operations Center at Fort Pickett

– Virginia Army Guard, Virginia Air Guard and Virginia Defense Force personnel staffed the Virginia Guard Joint Operations Center in Sandston as well as Emergency Support Function 16 at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center

– Public affairs personnel from Sandston-based Joint Force Headquarters Virginia and the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team provided public affairs support

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Va. Guard military police personnel assist with inauguration security
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2013/01/24/2808/

Va. Soldiers provide communications capability to inauguration mission
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2013/01/24/2828/

Chaplains provide services during 57th Presidential Inauguration
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2013/01/24/2790/

Infantry Soldiers assist Arlington Police during inauguration
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2013/01/24/2840/