By Jim Dresbach, Pentagram Staff WriterDecember 27, 2016
On Dec. 14, the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR) demonstrated how it has organized the task of preparing for our nation's next presidential transition.
A 2,400-square-foot map of Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia, nearly as large as a basketball court was spread across the District of Columbia National Guard Armory floor during a ceremonial Rehearsal of Concept (ROC) Drill for the 58th Presidential Inauguration. The map highlighted major landmarks in the nation's capital, key inaugural sites and embarking and disembarking areas for service members on Inauguration Day.
The purpose of the ROC drill is to synchronize Department of Defense ceremonial support to the Presidential Inauguration of President-elect Donald J. Trump with federal, state and local agencies by conducting a detailed, sequential timeline of events during the inaugural period.
Trump will be sworn in on the west side of the United States Capitol Jan. 20 at 12 p.m. Preparations for that day involve 13,000 service members -- from active duty, National Guard and reserve personnel.
Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR) and Military District of Washington Commander Maj. Gen. Bradley A. Becker is the commanding general of the JTF-NCR - 58th Presidential Inauguration. Becker told an audience of joint service members and media that service members from every branch of the military including a large contingency of national guardsmen will provide a wide range of support from ceremonial duties to medical assistance to traffic control and logistics.
"This event [drill] today, the rehearsal of concept drill, is very important," Becker said during his opening remarks. "It's our opportunity, with all our different teammates, to make sure we're synchronized and we're working together as one team."
According to Becker, the inauguration will bring close to 7,000 active-duty military personnel and 8,000 National Guard members to the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol, the White House and the streets of Washington, D.C.
Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) will cover the District of Columbia map. Old Guard Soldiers will join service members from each branch of the military who will line Pennsylvania Avenue to form an honor cordon. Further, many units based at JBM-HH will participate in the Inaugural Parade.
The Pentagon North Parking Lot will be the largest assembly area, where Old Guard Soldiers and service members will prepare for the parade. Close to 1,500 service members will convene at the Pentagon staging area.
"They're an integral part of this operation," U.S. Army Maj. Brian Fiddermon, parade planner for JTF-NCR said of The Old Guard Soldiers. "You'll see elements of [The Old Guard] at the Pentagon." There'll be some Old Guard on the parade route, and there'll be some in the dispersal area. They will be spread out throughout this entire operation."
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Aaron Lovely, the JTF-NCR senior enlisted planner, presented a walkthrough of the map and how the military will navigate Washington streets along with close to a million spectators.
"This large map is a valuable tool for us…It [shows] the coordinated efforts of the many organizations involved in support of the inaugural ceremonies," Lovely said. "To move these assets through the crowds of up to 800,000 people … requires strategic planning."
Lovely is also a musician with The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own."
During a press conference with task force commanders, Becker further explained how service members will be utilized Jan. 20.
"We'll have a little over 5,000 support and [ceremonial service members]," Becker said. "That includes [involvement] in the parade, inaugural balls and support at the swearing-in ceremony. About 2,000 will be in support of the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police to support a security role. On the [National] Guard side, it's about 8,000. When you add this all together, you're looking at about 13,000 actually out at the site and a couple thousand more from my joint task force working from behind the scenes."
National Guardsmen from as far away as Guam and 40 states will assist in Inauguration Day duties.
Pentagram Staff Writer Jim Dresbach can be reached at email@example.com.