ST. PAUL, Minn. (Army News Service, Sept. 2, 2008) -- During the first day of the Republican National Convention here, members of the Minnesota Army National Guard were called upon to provide crowd control.The St. Paul Police Department requested 150 Minnesota National Guard Soldiers to assist with crowd control in downtown St. Paul after demonstrators there became increasingly aggressive.The Soldiers assisting the St. Paul Police came from the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor, a Minnesota Army National Guard Battalion headquartered in Brainerd, Minn. The Soldiers acted as part of Joint Task Force - Republican National Convention, otherwise known as JTF-RNC."Our main mission is to support local law enforcement," said 1st Lt. T. Zdon, an armor officer with the 1-194th.The 1-194th Soldiers provide assistance in two key ways, said Zdon. "We provide a good number of forces used to support them, and we also provide a good military presence."The 1-194th also provided trained Soldiers who could assist with riot control procedures by using riot control tactics, as well as shields and batons, to keep crowds under control."We trained for a couple days, learning how each squad has an assigned task," said Spc. Ben Doran, an Infantryman with the 1-194th. "We generally work together and support each other, using shields and batons to keep crowds back. We want to use the minimum amount of force necessary to complete the mission."Soldiers with the 1-194th were acting as part of the JTF-RNC. The task force's mission is to conduct operations in support of the United States Secret Service and local law enforcement authorities in order to ensure a safe and secure environment for the convention being held in the city. A similar task force was provided for the Democratic National Convention.The RNC is a National Special Security Event, which means it is of heightened national interest and requires a higher level of security than is ordinarily at the disposal of local law enforcement, said Brig. Gen. Joseph Kelly, JTF-RNC commander and assistant adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard.In order to satisfy the security and support requirements of a National Special Security Event, authorities established a military joint task force, which includes approximately 1,600 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen from active duty, reserve and National Guard forces.The task force plays an important role in freeing up local law enforcement personnel so they can focus on higher law enforcement requirements, said Kelly.More than 400 members of JTF-RNC are active-duty service members. They provide specialties ranging from explosive ordnance disposal and explosive detection dog teams to assist the U.S. Secret Service in ensuring the convention venues remain safe.National Guard forces include about 1,200 Soldiers and Airmen from Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Alaska. Those members conduct general security missions, provide aviation and logistics support, assist local law enforcement with traffic control, and provide a weapons of mass destruction response capability."This is a unique event, and the National Guard is doing what it always does, which is to be there to help civil authorities and back them up when there is an event that requires more capabilities than what they can handle," said Kelly.In the unlikely event that something catastrophic occurs, JTF-RNC is also ready to stand up additional military forces in order to quickly help restore order, protect the public and provide essential services, Kelly added.