Montana Guard activated for inauguration; C-130s from Great Falls to transport troops

Gov. Greg Gianforte has activated 165 Montana Army National Guard troops to support the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. next week.

The activation is in response to a request from the National Guard Bureau and federal authorities, according to a release from Gianforte’s office.

“The Montana National Guard has a long, proud history of supporting our state and nation. I’m grateful to our selfless soldiers who are answering the call of duty again today to help ensure a peaceful transfer of power, a bedrock of our republic,” Gianforte said in a release.

Soldiers from the 484th Military Police Company, located in Billings, Malta and Glasgow; 143rd Military Police Company, located in Lewistown; and Headquarters, Headquarters Company of the 1-163rd Combined Arms Battalion, located in Belgrade are being combined and tasked with the mission of supporting the Washington D.C. National Guard and federal law enforcement agencies in our nation’s capital, according to the release.

Many states are sending National Guard soldiers to support law enforcement during inauguration.

The troops will be serving under Title 32 status as Gianforte has signed a memorandum of understanding delegating authority to the D.C. National Guard and civil authorities, according to Maj. Dan Bushnell, Montana Guard spokesman. That means the federal government will reimburse the state for the cost of Guard support.

Those troops are en route to Helena now and will do processing Friday and some training Saturday. On Sunday, four C-130s from the 120th Airlift Wing of the Montana Air National Guard will fly to Helena and the troops will load onto those planes for transport to D.C., Bushnell said.

He said they don’t know how long the troops will need to be in D.C. but currently their orders are through Jan. 31.

As of Jan. 14, there are 148 Montana Guard members on COVID-19 response duty, Bushnell said. The federal government is reimbursing the state for that response as well.

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy has authorized up to 21,000 National Guard members to support the inauguration.

“Right now, we have approximately 7,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen on the ground in support of the lead federal agency, and we are building to 21,000 for the upcoming inauguration,” Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau said during an inauguration security briefing with Vice President Mike Pence today, according to a NGB release. “They are under the command and control of Maj. Gen. William Walker, the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, and are providing security, communications, logistics and coordination with all supported agencies.”

National Guard civil support missions, according to NGB, are generally conducted to assist:

  • Supporting civil authorities whose capabilities or capability is insufficient to meet current requirements.
  • Protecting the life, property and safety of U.S. citizens.
  • Protecting critical U.S. infrastructure.
  • Providing humanitarian assistance during disaster response and domestic emergencies.
  • Providing support to designated law enforcement activities and operations.
  • Providing support to designated events, and other activities.

As of Jan. 14, according to NGB, “more than 32,700 National Guard members are supporting homeland operations at the direction of their governors. The current number includes activations for COVID-19 and civil disturbance missions. Presently, there are more than 65,400 Guard men and women engaged in homeland and overseas missions. More than 21,300 National Guard professionals continue COVID-19 response efforts at the direction of their governors in all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.”