Military officials prep for inauguration ceremonies

Senior Master Sgt. Scott Hinds walked around the map Wednesday, trying his best to avoid kicking over the monuments, as he described where different groups will be operating on Inauguration Day.

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The parade simulation at the D.C. Armory was one of roughly two dozen exercises that are being conducted on the map in the run-up to the Jan. 21 inauguration.

Wednesday’s drill was described by officials as a “sanitized” — not to mention miniaturized — version of the actual “I-Day,” as the military held a media day at the Armory.

While President Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts may be the main attractions of the 57th presidential inauguration, the event will have a huge military presence that is both ceremonial and supports the Secret Service, police and fire departments with crowd control and medical issues.

Military officials said that about 6,000 National Guard members from at least 15 states and territories will be coming to the region to participate, along with 7,500 active-duty and reserve service members. The active-duty component includes 1,500 service members who will have ceremonial roles in the inauguration ceremonies.

The complicated inter-agency logistics of the inauguration make the giant map currently in the Armory’s gymnasium a key tool.

“It allows the different participating units to physically walk on the map as they’re speaking through what they’re doing,” Army Maj. Gen. Michael Linnington told reporters. “They’ll walk and talk what they’re actually doing. ... It’s a very good tool for synchronizing events in time and space, and that’s why we use the big map.”

The president’s second inauguration follows the 2009 event that saw record-breaking crowds descend on the D.C. area. The full National Mall was opened for the first time, which will be done again this year.

That said, officials expect that the 2013 crowd will be smaller than the one for Obama’s first inauguration, Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Errol Schwartz said.

Schwartz said a crowd estimate for 2013 has yet to be determined.