BY LT. J. G. MICHAEL D. DUNLAP, USN
PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER
NAVY LIAISON OFFICE, NAVAL DISTRICT WASHINGTON
U.S. Navy Supply Corps Reservists helped to coordinate the more than 5,000 Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen participating to render appropriate ceremonial honors to the commander-in-chief during the 58th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2017.
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U.S. Navy Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Ryan Hardy loads cases of meals onto a conveyer belt at the Washington Navy Yard Jan. 12, 2017, in preparation for the official DoD rehearsal.
The Navy Liaison Office (LNO), an element of Naval District Washington, provided support to man and organize the Sailors serving in musical units and marching bands, color guards, and cordons. At the heart of LNO operations, Navy Reserve Supply Corps officers and enlisted personnel helped bring together the broad resources required for this national ceremony.
From the first presidential inauguration in 1789, the U.S. military has helped to celebrate and honor the peaceful transfer of power. This tradition has been carried out for each president since, recognizing the authority of the president as the commander-in-chief, just as the members of the U.S. Army, local militia units, and Revolutionary War veterans escorted George Washington to his first inaugural ceremony.
Navy Reserve members had a prominent role in the planning and implementation of the inaugural ceremonial support. While active-duty Sailors comprised the majority of visible participants from the Navy in positions such as the cordon, marching bands and color guards, Navy Reserve members made up more than 90 percent of the planning and coordination elements.
“There are many factors which support the utilization of Reserve forces for missions such as support of the 58th Presidential Inauguration,” said Mike Piccolo, U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) J1 inaugural manpower manager and retired full-time support chief petty officer. “Historically, budgetary limits, demand for personnel in overseas operations, and the establishment of NORTHCOM as the supported commander have created a need for which our Reserve detachments are an ideal match.”
Planning for the inaugural activities begins a year in advance, with most of the detailed preparation occurring in the final six months. Reserve billets for officers and enlisted personnel were advertised through the GovDelivery portal and by individual community detailers throughout the Navy.
This year, Reservists reported from 33 states representing 28 ratings. Utilizing additional duty for special work, additional duty for training, and exceptional annual training orders, LNO approved 58 separate mission requirements to bring Reserve Sailors from across the country to coordinate participation.
Lt. Cmdr. George R. Lawton, officer in charge for LNO, coordinated Navy support with the Joint Task Force - National Capital Region (JTF-NCR), a Joint service organization that organized all military ceremonial participation for the 58th presidential inauguration.
“Serving with the presidential inauguration is an incredible opportunity for Reservists,” said Lawton. “Having this chance to serve on such a high-profile mission gives our Reservists a chance to participate in a ceremony that showcases the very foundation of our country.”
“My role here is to manage the operating budget, manpower and training of the more than 1,100 active and Reserve Navy personnel participating in the presidential inauguration,” said Lawton. “We have a staff of 12 who worked long hours to gain incoming support staff to LNO and the JTF-NCR, contract more than two-dozen busses and credential all the personnel supporting the ceremony.”
“One of the challenges from a budget standpoint has been how to do more with less. Without reducing the total number of man-hours, I was able to utilize our Reserve Sailors in such a way as to achieve a 30 percent cost savings over the previous inauguration,” said Lawton.
Lawton has previous experience with inaugural planning. During the 2013 presidential inauguration he served as the logistics officer for the JTF-NCR, which was then called the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee.
“The Joint environment pulls together a great team from across the services to support this event,” said Lawton. “This is my second inauguration as the lead agent and we brought together Reserve Sailors from all over the country, utilizing dozens of ratings to create a cohesive team. My fellow Reserve Supply Corps officers and enlisted logistics specialists added a critical supply element to the team.”
Chief Logistics Specialist Tracey McGee joined LNO in October on Active Duty for Training orders. “I have really enjoyed working to get all of our Sailors’ orders through, ensuring they have everything necessary for their [annual training],” said McGee. “This has been a very high-tempo environment, very intense dealing with individual issues to make sure they have the tools they need to complete the mission. I have really enjoyed it.”
McGee has prior experience as an active-duty member in the Army as a unit supply specialist.
“I have 20 years combined experience and came into the Navy in 2001,” said McGee. “My favorite part about this experience working on the inauguration has been seeing the Joint environment with the Navy, Marines, Air Force, Army, and Coast Guard come together as one unit.”
Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Juan M. Sanchez worked with LNO for two months helping to prepare for the inauguration. Sanchez’s job was to monitor and track more than 1,100 personnel to ensure they arrived on time at their respective staging areas on Inauguration Day and returned after the ceremony.
“We have a lot of people feeding information into our process and I saw that we could benefit from having one person keep track of the workflow,” Sanchez said. “I enjoy spreadsheets, which is one of the reasons I like being in the LS rating, so I volunteered to manage the information.”
Sanchez joined the Navy Reserve in 2001. His father brought the family to the U.S. from Mexico when Sanchez was 6 years old.
“I always wanted to give back to this country, which has given me so much,” said Sanchez. “My dad’s philosophy was to make a better life; that is why he brought us here.”
Sanchez began his Naval career at March Air Reserve Base after graduating from boot camp at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois. Later that year, the U.S. was attacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001. “My wife asked me, ‘what does this mean, you just joined the Navy?’” said Sanchez. “To be honest, I was not sure how to reply. I joined the Navy to give back, to see the world, and did not think we would be at war right away, but I assured her I would be 'OK', and thatthis is what I had signed up to do.”
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U.S. Navy Reserve Sailors assigned as Joint Team Capitol ushers disembark from busses in front of the U.S. Capitol. – U.S. Navy photos by Lt. j.g. Michael D. Dunlap, USN
Sanchez was one of many Reservists who spent extended time preparing for the inauguration on additional duty for training orders.
“Most people only see the inauguration and don’t know the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. I knew coming here was going to be a challenge,” said Sanchez. “It was a great honor to come here and support the inauguration and rewarding to know all the effort that went into it.”
Military support of the 58th presidential inauguration centered on rendering appropriate ceremonial honors. Experienced Navy Reserve supply officers and enlisted logistics specialists were placed in key positions to organize and manage the thousands of personnel participating, a role uniquely filled by Reserve forces.
“The inaugural personnel requirements are typically non-standard mission assignments that require professionalism and flexibility,” said Piccolo. “The Naval Reserve is a perfect fit for this type of quadrennial mission.”