Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Spotlight on Service: The Armed Forces Inaugural Committee

If you spend any time around the Capitol these days, you’ll see an unusual number of soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen, and coast guardsmen in the area. While about 5,000 of these brave men and women in uniform are working with the Secret Service to provide security for the inaugural activities, 750 military personnel are working with the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee (AFIC) to provide ceremonial planning, logistics and publications support.

AFIC is a special committee authorized every four years by the Secretary of Defense to provide professional military support for presidential inaugurations. Its members include representative from all of the United States armed forces: Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

This integrated total force falls under the command of Joint Forces Headquarters National Capital Region, which itself falls under USNORTHCOM as the combatant command.

Among other things, AFIC processes applications to march in the 56th Inaugural Parade. Indeed, the military’s involvement in the inaugural parade stretches back to George Washington’s inaugural. The parade on April 30th, 1789 featured a troop of horses, artillery, two companies of grenadiers, a company of light infantry and a battalion of infantry troops.

1801 saw the first “true” inaugural parade, as singing civilian workers played music, while escorting President Jefferson on the march.

It wasn’t until the early 1950s that AFIC was officially organized by the Department of Defense. Eisenhower’s 1953 inaugural parade, the first organized by AFIC, clocked in at 5 hours—the longest in history.

Fifty-six years later, AFIC remains a key player in the inaugural ceremonies. The presence of our bravest American heroes reminds us of the significance of a peaceful transfer of power.

(Credits: From the USA Service Blog )

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