Air Force Col. Larry H. Lang, commander of the U.S. Air Force Band, conducts during a dress rehearsal for the Inaugural Parade, at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 11. (Claudette Roulo / Defense Department)
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As the world watches the commander in chief inaugurated for a second term Jan. 21 in Washington, D.C., some 5,500 service members are expected to take part in the pageantry, both in the parade and behind the scenes.
The Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, or JTF-NCR, coordinates all military ceremonial support for the 57th Presidential Inauguration of President Obama and Vice President Biden. Each service has assigned 287 service members to the task force to support the private Presidential Inauguration Committee and the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
The official activities will span three days, starting with a National Day of Service on Jan. 19 and culminating Jan. 21 with the swearing-in, parade and two inaugural balls.
Here's what you should know about the Air Force's role in the inaugural festivities:
1. Task force support. When a major event is happening in Washington, it's a safe bet that airmen from the Air Force District of Washington will be involved. The district organizes, trains and equips combat forces for the aerospace expeditionary units, and supports special security and ceremonial events in the D.C. area. In April, Air Combat Command activated the 320th Air Expeditionary Wing to provide such support.
2. The units. More than 1,000 airmen will be tasked to support inaugural events from the District of Washington, which is located at Joint Base Andrews, Md., and is the parent command to the 11th Wing, 79th Medical Wing, 844th Communications Group, and two ceremonial elements. Airmen with three other Andrews units are part of the team: Air Mobility Command's 89th Airlift Wing, the Guard's 113th Wing, and the Reserve's 459th Air Refueling Wing.
3. The parade. The Air Force Band and honor guard will join honor cordons and marching units comprised of active-duty, Reserve and Guard airmen from across the National Capital Region and the Air Force Academy. Roughly 1,550 military personnel from each service will provide the cordon that lines the parade route — about 30 charter buses full of troops. The cordon must be in place at 9:30 a.m., and with a few breaks, be on the length of the parade, from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
4. Commander in Chief's Ball. The Air Force has nominated more than 200 airmen to attend the Military Inaugural Ball, and the Inaugural Selection Committee will make the final selection from airmen, Medal of Honor recipients and wounded warriors. Air Force Band ensembles will perform.
5. Long history. The U.S. military has participated in inaugurations since April 30, 1789, when members of the Army, local militia units and Revolutionary War veterans escorted George Washington to his first inauguration ceremony at Federal Hall in New York City. This year, the joint effort reflects how the services operate in today's environment.