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By Maj. Holli Nelson
West Virginia National Guard Public Affairs
The West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) will have approximately 475 personnel on the ground in Washington, D.C., beginning early next week, to assist civilian law enforcement and officials with the protection of property and providing a safe environment for citizens to exercise their right to peacefully assemble and protest leading up to the 59th Presidential Inauguration on Jan. 20.
Additionally, as a part of this mission, a specialized team of Soldiers and Airmen from the 35th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) will provide assistance to the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services and 33rd Civil Support Team in consequence management.
At the request of the National Guard Bureau, the WVNG was asked to provide the additional support on top of the 35th CERFP’s mission to assist in the National Capital Region. National Guard members will be postured to meet the requirements of the supported civil authorities up to and including the wear of protective equipment and being armed, if necessary. Governor Jim Justice approved that request this afternoon.
“Our One Guard Soldiers and Airmen are expertly trained and prepared for the missions that they will carry out while supporting the 59th Presidential Inauguration next week and our primary objective is to provide support to local authorities,” said Brig. Gen. William “Bill” Crane, West Virginia Adjutant General. “Many of our Soldiers and Airmen are providing the same type of support that we do for any presidential inauguration or State of the Union address. Our additional personnel will assist thousands of other National Guard members from across the United States and our law enforcement partners in providing a safe environment for all involved in the inauguration and leading up to it. I couldn’t be more proud of our men and women to be a part of an event that supports the peaceful transition of power and ensures the safety and well-being of our fellow Americans, especially as we balance the needs of our state response effort here in West Virginia.”
The 35th CERFP consists of 208 service members from both the Army and Air that are prepared to assist local, state, and federal agencies in consequence management. The unit has six functional areas that bring CBRN capabilities to incident commanders in the areas of command and control, mass casualty decontamination, search and rescue, communications, medical, and the Fatality Search and Rescue Team (FSRT).
According to National Guard Bureau, military support to inaugurations by National Guard members dates back 232 years to when Gen. George Washington began his inaugural journey from Mount Vernon to New York City. Local militias, the modern-day National Guard, joined his inaugural procession as it passed through towns along the route to be joined by members of the regular Army, additional local militia, and Revolutionary War veterans once Washington arrived in New York City. This presidential military escort then accompanied him to Federal Hall for the presidential oath, and the National Guard and other military units have continued this tradition of inaugural support ever since.
Additional units providing support include the 1st Battalion, 201st Field Artillery Regiment; the Army Interagency Training and Education Center; and Soldiers from various military police units in the WVNG.
As WVNG personnel are supporting the security effort in the nation’s capital, nearly 550 Soldiers and Airmen continue to support COVID-19 testing and assisting the West Virginia Joint Interagency Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccinations with planning for COVID-19 vaccine roll out in West Virginia.