Pentagon preparing for inauguration

(CNN)The presidential election still hasn’t happened, but the US military likes to plan ahead, way ahead. Knowing the troops will have a leading role in January for the 58th presidential inauguration ceremonies and the country will have a new commander in chief, the Pentagon is getting ready on several fronts.

The first rehearsal event is scheduled for December 14. Military and inaugural officials will meet in a nondescript office in Washington, roll out a huge map on the floor and walk through the events of the day beginning with President Barack Obama and the President-elect leaving the White House to travel to the Capitol for the swearing-in, all the way through the parade.


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If past years are any telling sign, there will eventually be a full dress rehearsal the weekend before Inauguration. In recent years, a military member is actually designated to stand in for the new President rehearsing taking the oath of office.
The ceremonies and parade surrounding Inauguration are well known to the Pentagon. But like a “war” plan, it’s all about rehearsal and making sure everyone knows what to do. The President-elect’s inaugural committee will oversee much of the effort. Ceremonial military units stationed in the Washington DC are heavily involved every four years.
The Army’s 3d US Infantry Regiment — traditionally known as “The Old Guard” — will take a leading role in the inaugural parade. Its the oldest active duty infantry unit in the Army, first established in 1784. The unit is the Army’s official escort to the President of the United States, for when they take office on Inauguration Day, and when a president is buried. They also escort the fallen for burial at Arlington Cemetery.
While ceremonial planning goes on, the Pentagon, along with the rest of the administration are are getting ready for the transition of power to a new president and a new Defense secretary on a substantive level. It’s generally acknowledged that the single most important task will be for a new President to be briefed on the nuclear launch codes.
But the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, is also having extensive briefing material assembled, according to defense officials. The chairman, who serves as the senior military advisor to the president, will remain in office after inauguration, as his term is not up for several months. As has happened in the past, he will be ready to brief the President-elect on details on key command authorities such as how military operations are approved by a president and launched, according to defense officials.
Dunford, like his predecessor Admiral Michael Mullen, is expected to meet with the President-elect, and then work intensively and directly with him or her in the first weeks of the administration to establish a comfortable working relationship with the new commander in chief, defense officials say. At the same time, the Pentagon is getting ready for a new secretary of Defense, traditionally one of the first Cabinet jobs to be confirmed by the Senate to ensure a smooth national security transition. The Pentagon also is preparing extensive briefings on existing military operations, threats and matters such as the defense budget for a new secretary.

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