Guard troops providing support during Democratic Convention

WASHINGTON- A task force of National Guard Soldiers has spent…

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WASHINGTON- A task force of National Guard Soldiers has spent months preparing for this week’s Democratic National Convention.

Joint Task Force-DNC has about 1,700 Guard members who are ready to help maintain civil order in Denver, if necessary. The task force also provides information such as satellite imagery to assist law-enforcement authorities, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the U.S. Secret Service during the convention which runs through Aug. 28

About 40 Guard Soldiers assigned to the 1st Space Brigade’s 117th Space Battalion have been preparing for the convention by monitoring computer images, uploading data and reviewing map printouts.

Another group of Soldiers who are part of JTF-DNC donned riot gear last month to practice at a military-operations-in-urban-terrain site on Fort Carson, Colo.

Battalion commander Lt. Col. Don Laucirica said, “If there are (violent) demonstrations, these National Guard Soldiers will have to protect people and businesses from protests that could get out of hand.”

The civil-disturbance training could help to quell a potential incident involving thousands of people at the 45,000-person-capacity Invesco Field, a stadium in Denver, said Maj. Tod Fenner, who’d been designated team leader for the Army space support team tasked to support JTF-DNC.

“In our space mission, we couldn’t get a satellite on short notice to ‘eye’ a demonstration and give us real-time images,” Laucirica said. “But we could provide imagery of the area that we have in our existing databases; computer applications allow the ‘space Soldiers’ to access the existing imagery and create three-dimensional views.”

If the Soldiers had to extract someone by helicopter, “we could provide flight routes, so the pilot would know what buildings he’d have to maneuver around,” Laucirica said.

“Our Soldiers in the ‘turtle suits’ (protective gear) will have a very different mission from those performing the space-operations role,” he continued. “It’s very much as it is in Iraq; we could have a team at Central Command headquarters in Florida and a team in Iraq to support Soldiers who have very different needs.”

The majority of JTF-DNC members are from the Colorado National Guard, but other states are also providing support. For instance, Civil Support Teams from three states are now in Denver.

Next week, more than 1,000 service members, led by the Minnesota National Guard, will provide support to civil authorities in Minnesota during the Republican National Convention.

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