U.S. Troops Will Demonstrate Security Presence on Inauguration Day

WASHINGTON -- More than 11,000 U.S. troops will provide air defenses and medical and other support in case of a terrorist attack during the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration, the U.S. commander in charge of domestic defense said Wednesday.

That's "not because we see a specific threat, but because (for) an event this visible and this important and this historic, we ought to be prepared to respond if something does happen," said Gen. Gene Renuart, head of the U.S. Northern Command.

In a session with defense writers, Renuart said about 7,500 active duty military and roughly 4,000 National Guard troops will participate in the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

They will include a contingent on alert to respond to a chemical attack. Others will perform ceremonial roles in parades, reviews, honor guards and so on, Renuart said.
He did not give figures but said a "big chunk" of both active and guard units will do ceremonial work.

The Secret Service is in charge of inauguration security. There also will be some 4,000 local police, 4,000 police from around the country and security agents from other government agencies.

Renuart said planners are working under the assumption that a terrorist or rogue element might try to interrupt the inauguration.

"So it's prudent for us to plan for the possibility of that kind of event, and to be prepared either to deter it or to respond to it," he said.