Presidential Inauguration Support

As you may or may not know, NORAD and U.S. Northern Command and its subordinate, Joint Task Force - National Capitol Region, are intimately involved in assisting the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Secret Service in planning and executing Department of Defense support for the ceremonial and non-ceremonial portions of the Presidential Inauguration. This is no easy task, as you can imagine, as recent press reports that more than 2 million people are expected to converge on Washington D.C. on this historical day. We don’t believe there is an imminent threat, but anytime you have a high profile event and a large number of people compressed into a small area --- you want to be prepared for any kind of event. As we approach any large scale event such as this regionally, we take a collective all-hazards approach to disaster planning, which includes planning for the possibility of a Weapons of Mass Destruction attack. We do have a number of capabilities we can use in chemical, biological, or medical disaster response. In the unlikely event of a large scale incident during the 2009 inaugural period, we have highly trained and specialized response teams standing by ready to assist first responders with consequence management operations, including responding to a WMD attack. They are ready and on alert and can respond very quickly. As part of an interagency team, we are prepared to assist in consequence management operations of any type to save lives and mitigate damage when needed. NORAD will be on alert and airborne throughout the inaugural period. Our active air presence will be combined with a variety of ground capabilities to provide the best possible air defense that we can. Now this active duty and National Guard presence can be misconstrued by some to mean that we have created a police state for this event…A question asked in the recent Time Magazine article at,8599,1871963,00.html.

Let's be clear. We are very careful to make sure that we don’t cross the line of the active-duty, federal, Title-10 military, conducting anything that is law enforcement. The National Guard, Title 32 military, has in its mandate, the authority to provide support to law enforcement when directed by the governor of a particular state or the district in which they operate. They’re trained for that. They have the relationships to do that. And General Schwartz, who is the Commander of the District of Columbia National Guard, is really working that support. So, the men and women in uniform providing what would be law enforcement such as crowd control, traffic control, support to local police, they are national guardsmen. And we really do watch that very carefully. The active duty, Federal military role - the Title-10 military’s role - is to provide the support to those other agencies such as medical support, consequence management planning and expertise, logistics support, military working dogs and approved ceremonial support through the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee. There was some concern as we created this consequence management response force that it would sort of signal an attempt to push back the restrictions of Posse Comitatus. That’s absolutely not the case. We are providing assistance as requested by the inaugural committee and as directed by the Department of Defense. We are providing support to civil authorities. We have that capability everyday. We train in those skills. We’re good at those skills. Why would we not make those available to the American public if there was a real need. And so that’s really the change in our presence in states and certainly in the national capital region for this event. It’s to be there to provide assistance."