– Approximately 500 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen were formed as “Task Force Security” and all worked together to provide enhanced police capability for the 118th Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014.
“The mission of the military security teams today is to augment and support local law enforcement agencies,” said Lt. Col. Allen Aldenberg, commander, 211th Military Police Battalion, Massachusetts Army National Guard. “In the event of an emergency, civil law enforcement will coordinate a plan of action, and the Guardsman are here to assist as needed,” he said.
After the tragic events of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, the Department of Homeland Security categorized this year’s race as a National Special Security Event.
This year, the combined Military Police Task Force, including the 211th Military Police Battalion, 104th Fighter Wing, 102nd Intelligence Wing Security Forces, Rhode Island Army National Guard Military Police, Maine Army National Guard Military Police and Connecticut Army National Guard Military Police K9s were all under the command of Aldenberg and augmented civilian police agencies along the marathon route.
“The Army Military Police were stationed from Hopkinton all the way to Brookline,” said Maj. Bryan Pillai, operations officer for the 211th Military Police Battalion and Task Force Security Commander. “Our participation with the Boston Marathon security mission has doubled in comparison to last year.”
Members of the Air National Guard from the 102nd and 104th Security Forces Squadrons were specifically tasked with assisting local police in Hopkinton, said Master Sgt. Jose Rijos of the 104th Security Forces Squadron. They helped ensure that the areas near the start line were safe for racers, spectators, and residents.
“We always look forward to working with our brothers and sisters from the 104th Security Forces and the 211th Military Police Battalion,” said 1st Lt. Marc McAndrew, operations officer for the 102nd Security Forces Squadron. “We enjoy a great working relationship with our fellow military police units here in Massachusetts and jump at every chance to work in a joint environment.”
A significant change in the Guard's security strategy this year was that all of the security personnel were armed military police soldiers or security forces airmen. During previous marathons, Guardsmen were unarmed while supporting the event. The military rules of engagement are consistent with local law enforcement.
“We were very excited and proud to support the security mission with local law enforcement this year,” said McAndrew. “Last year we had eighteen members who stayed on duty for more than 24 hours after the bombing. Many of those members not only worked again this year, but also participated in the Tough Ruck challenge on Saturday, marching 26.2 miles in uniform with a 40 pound pack to honor our fallen Massachusetts service men and women.”
In addition to the security support by Massachusetts Guardsman, 41 Air National Guard medical members were stationed at Hayden Rowe, just blocks from the race start in Hopkinton. The medical team, or CERFP (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosive (CBRN) Enhanced Response Force Package), was ready to respond in the event of a mass casualty, said Air Force Master Sgt. Daniel Larivere, medical logistics for the CERFP.
This was the CERFP’s first year assisting with the marathon. Their medical members are trained to provide initial medical care and even search and extraction in the event of an emergency, said Larivere.
“The CERFP provides a valuable tool for this type of event,” said Capt. Dennis Smith, an ER trauma nurse for the CERFP. “After the disaster last year, we were invited for our capacity to rapidly deploy with life saving equipment.
The CERFP has all of the equipment, tools, knowledge, and personnel to treat patients immediately and stabilize people if needed before transporting to a major city hospital.
Between the National Guard and 15 other inter-agency partners, the 2014 Boston Marathon was secure, again promoting the “Boston Strong” spirit.