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District of Columbia Army National Guard

The District of Columbia Army National Guard has a unique mission. Led by a Commanding General, it is the only Army National Guard organization activated by the President of the United States for natural and civil emergencies. Like all other Army National Guard units, the DC. Army National Guard continues to support the United States Army and its national security objectives.

While the National Guards in the 50 states operate under dual jurisdictions, federal and local, the D.C. National Guard (DCNG) has no local jurisdiction, no matter the local emergency. The President of the United States as the Commander-in-Chief alone has the authority to call upon the National Guard for any purpose, local or national here. Each governor, however, as the head of state, has the authority to mobilize her National Guard to protect the local jurisdiction, just as local militia have always done historically.

Most often, this has meant calling upon the National Guard to restore order in the wake of civil disturbances and natural disasters. For such local emergencies, it makes sense that the governor would have exclusive control over the mobilization and deployment of the state militia, and it makes the same sense for the mayor of the District of Columbia with a population the size of that of small states, to have the same authority. The mayor must request the needed assistance from the President, who serves as the Commander-in-Chief for a local National Guard. In an emergency unique to the District, the mayor, who knows the city better than any federal official, can deploy his own National Guard only by relying on the President, who is necessarily preoccupied with national matters, including perhaps war or homeland attack.

A detachment that is both unique and young has become the first Army National Guard outfit to be mobilized for federal active duty to support Operation "Noble Eagle," America's homeland defense. The 25-member team from Mobilization Augmentation Detachment 4 is part of the District of Columbia Army National Guard. They were mobilized Sept. 25, 2001 and conducted a formal activation ceremony Sept. 29 at the D.C. Armory. Their overall mission is to provide additional resources in command and control in Army and Army Guard operations centers. One of its assignments will involve helping to mobilize other Army Guard and Army Reserve soldiers for active duty. The unit is composed primarily of field grade officers, majors and lieutenant colonels, who will augment National Guard and Army operations centers primarily in the Washington, D.C., area. Originally activated Feb. 22, 1998, it is the only unit of its kind in the U.S. Army.

The DC Army National Guard's well-trained soldiers support federal and District agencies in a variety of contingencies. In April members supported the NATO Summit, ensuring the safety of foreign visitors. A key partner with the District in the War on Drugs, the Counterdrug Program claimed more than 1,000 properties boarded since 1997 that were used for illegal drug activity. Its Reconnaissance and Aerial Interdiction Detachment flew more than 1,000 hours to support the Metropolitan Police Department. The Lite-All Program deterred drug activity and crime by providing high intensity lighting in high crime neighborhoods. Since FY98, support to federal and District law enforcement agencies provided in 650-plus missions resulted in the seizure of $72 million in narcotics, weapons, property and cash. Proving its active involvement with the area's youth, the DCARNG assisted at-risk youth through the ChalleNGe Program in partnership with the Maryland National Guard. Since its inception, 320 District youth have graduated.

Since June 2000, five DC Guardsmen have provided similar security at the Washington Navy Yard in support of Federal Protective Services, said Wilson. Their primary mission is to scan truck cargo bound for the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, for bombs. This highly specialized Mobile Search Operations Team from the DC Army National Guard departed in March 2001 enroute to Bahrain, Southwest Asia to help guard U.S. Naval ships against the threat of terrorist attack. The five-person team was created in response to a Navy Support Activity request for security forces that can inspect ships for bombs in certain high-risk ports.

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