More than 800 Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island National Guard members helped local law enforcement agencies from eight cities and towns keep the 118th Boston Marathon route clear for runners as they hit the road last Monday.
The National Guard provided chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN), and improvised explosive detection teams, as well as medical and security personnel to help local communities along the 26.2-mile route ensure a safe and successful race.
The 79th Troop Command, Massachusetts National Guard, supervised and planned the Guard’s efforts to coordinate with local, state, regional, and federal partners to support the Boston Athletic Association as it continues to carry on the world’s oldest marathon.
This year’s race was categorized as a National Special Security Event by the Department of Homeland Security because of the 2013 bombings that killed three people and injured more than 250 people.
A significant change in the Guard’s security strategy this year was that all security personnel were armed military police or security forces specialists. During previous marathons, Guard members were unarmed while supporting the event. The National Guard Civil Support Teams that advise and help first responders to detect chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive weapons also were armed.
Lt. Col. Matthew Woolums, Commander, 1st Civil Support Team, Massachusetts National Guard, said, “We train year-round to advise and assist incident commanders and first responders. This year, we added more explosive detection training, and our Soldiers and Airmen carried weapons.”
All of the public safety agencies were committed to carrying out the safety plan in a way that did not diminish the runners’ and spectators’ fun. Public interest in supporting the city’s greatest race resulted in 36,000 runners registering for this year’s marathon, compared to 27,000 last year. The combination of more runners and tighter security was a challenge for planners.
Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard, said, “We were well-prepared to provide medical and security support to our civil authorities and communities, enhancing safety for the 2014 Boston Marathon. Our National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are proud to have been an integral part of this historic race and our nation’s ‘Boston Strong’ spirit of competition, compassion, and community.”
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Original article by Sgt. 1st Class James Lally, Massachusetts National Guard.