Idaho National Guard returns after helping with presidential inauguration

More than 275 Soldiers and Airmen departed from Gowen Field January 15
More than 300 Idaho National Guard Soldiers and Airmen supported the 59th Presidential...
More than 300 Idaho National Guard Soldiers and Airmen supported the 59th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C. from Jan. 15 –24. More than 25,000 National Guardsmen from across the country conducted security, communication and logistical missions in support of federal and district authorities leading up to, during and after inauguration. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur)(Rachel Fabbi)
Published: Jan. 24, 2021 at 5:55 PM MST
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GOWEN FIELD, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) More than 300 Idaho National Guard Soldiers and Airmen returned home from Washington, D.C. Sunday after assisting district and federal agencies with the 59th Presidential Inauguration.

“We’re proud of you, but I’m not surprised you did exactly what I knew you would: you answered the call,” Maj. Gen. Michael Garshak, adjutant general of Idaho, told Soldiers and Airmen upon their return. “You accomplished the mission and you represented Idaho in a professional manner.”

More than 275 Soldiers and Airmen departed from Gowen Field January 15, less than 72 hours after Governor Brad Little approved the mission.

“It never ceases to amaze me, the dedication of the men and women of the Idaho National Guard and their families,” said Little. “Thank you to your employers. That’s all part of the chemistry of what we do here.”

Idaho Guardsmen augmented the Washington, D.C. National Guard and served in support of the U.S. Secret Service—the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating inaugurations, the U.S. Capitol Police and Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department.”I’m proud of the Soldiers and Airmen and I was proud to represent Idaho,” said Lt. Col. Steve Arnett, task force commander for the deployment. “Our Soldiers and Airmen were extremely professional and I was proud to work with them for the past 10 days.”

The nation’s Guard response included an estimated 26,000 Guard members from all states and territories. Nearly half of the National Guard task force conducted security-related duties to include traffic control and assisting visitors to assembly areas as well as entry and exit points.

Guardsmen traveled to Washington, D.C. and back via military and contracted aircraft with standard government-issued equipment, to include their service weapons. During operations, members carried ammunition on their person but not in their weapons, in accordance with force protection and threat condition measures.

Soldiers and Airmen worked 12- to 20-hour shifts. While on duty, they took rest breaks in designated areas, which included the U.S. Capitol’s visitor center and a nearby parking garage before the inauguration. Idaho personnel slept in hotels in the district area while off duty.

“I had a great experience,” said Airman 1st Class Jaden Sanchez, who works as an optometrist technician in Eagle and serves in the 124th Fighter Wing. “It was great working with the Idaho National Guard and seeing our nation’s capital, I had never been before.”

The Idaho National Guard planned for more than a month to send roughly two dozen personnel to the region in support of the inauguration. The increase in personnel was due to a new request to provide additional Guard support and represented roughly seven percent of the Idaho National Guard force.

The 101st Civil Support Team and two unit ministry teams were among the original personnel scheduled to patriciate in the inauguration.

101st CST Soldiers and Airmen served as liaison officers for the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Systems area command and the joint task force joint operations center; drivers for White House and Capitol events with the task force command group; and alongside members of the Department of Energy, the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI and local first responders.

The Washington, D.C. mission did not involve Idaho’s 200 Soldiers and Airmen already working in their communities as part of the COVID-19 response effort. While providing inauguration support, the Idaho National Guard continued to maintain its capacity to provide emergency response in Idaho, whether it be a COVID surge, civil unrest, natural disaster or other emergency response function.

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