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Players: Galen B. Jackman

General Again Has A Front-Row Seat

By Brian Faler
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, January 20, 2005; Page A23

Maj. Gen. Galen B. Jackman was a fixture during the state funeral for President Ronald Reagan last year, when he was charged with accompanying Nancy Reagan through the official events marking her husband's death.

The graying soldier will quietly step back into the public spotlight at today's inauguration, when he escorts President Bush out of the Capitol. He will lead the newly sworn-in president to a platform where they will review the military's presidential escort parade. Jackman will then show Bush to his car and, from there, race up to the front of the military procession that will lead the president's motorcade up Pennsylvania Avenue.

Maj. Gen. Galen Jackman is coordinating military activities during the inauguration. (Kevin Clark -- The Washington Post)

In Profile

Maj. Gen. Galen B. Jackman

Title: Commanding general, U.S. Military District of Washington/Joint Forces Headquarters, National Capital Region

Education: Bachelor's degree in history, University of Nebraska; graduate of the Command and General Staff College and Industrial College of the Armed Forces; master's of science, Florida Institute of Technology.

Age: 53.

Family: Married; two sons.

Career highlights: director of operations, U.S. Southern Command; chief of staff and assistant division commander for support, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry); commander, Ranger Training Brigade, Fort Benning, Ga.; squadron commander, Delta Force; began his career with 82nd Airborne at Ft. Bragg in a variety of posts.

Book on his nightstand: "Centennial Campaign: The Sioux War of 1876" by John Stephens Gray.

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Away from the spotlight, Jackman is also coordinating the thousands of military personnel involved in ceremonies across the city, as well as the thousands of others looking after Inauguration Day's security.

It will be, in some ways, just another day at the office for Jackman.

As the commanding general of the Military District of Washington, Jackman, 53, is responsible for helping to protect the capital from terrorist attacks. He also administers a string of military installations stretching from New York to Virginia.

In September, he became head of the Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region, a new outfit designed to coordinate the area's military units, with both ceremonial and conventional military capabilities. The joint headquarters, at Fort McNair, is focused on homeland defense.

But he is also the local director of pomp and circumstance, responsible for military ceremonies big and small.

He helps welcome foreign dignitaries at the White House. When the president visits Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans and Memorial days, so does Jackman. But Jackman is perhaps best known for his role at the Reagan funeral, where he was seen as the soldier who never seemed to leave Nancy Reagan's arm.

It's a job, he said, that often gives him a front-row seat to history. This is his first inauguration.

"I'm normally right there in the middle of it," Jackman said in an interview earlier this week. "The proudest thing for me is to be able to represent all those military men and women, particularly those in harm's way. "

He was picked for the job by the Army chief of staff 18 months ago, the latest twist in a career that began on the flats of Nebraska. He was born in Gering, a small town in western Nebraska. Jackman later moved to the state capital, Lincoln, and attended the University of Nebraska. There he studied history and was commissioned into the ROTC. He subsequently served in the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg. Most recently, he served as director of operations for the U.S. Southern Command in Florida.

More than 6,000 military personnel will participate in this week's inauguration ceremonies, in activities including marching in the parade, standing in a cordon along the parade route and sounding trumpets when Bush arrives at one of the inaugural balls -- and it is Jackman's job to make sure their jobs go off without a hitch. An additional 2,000 service members will be involved in security operations.

"It's complicated because of the number of events, the number of people that are involved and the moving pieces to all of this," Jackman said. "[But] we've been planning for a considerable period of time to make sure this is a world-class ceremony. This is a celebration of democracy. . . . Rendering the proper ceremonies in conjunction with that is an important part of that." But it is also the first inauguration since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and he has spent much of his energy focusing on security, working with the Secret Service, which is heading security for the event, and other agencies.

"I'm paid to think about worst-case scenarios," Jackman said. "So we have looked at all the various types of attack scenarios here, whether it's weapons of mass destruction, use of aircraft, use of mortars, snipers . . . improvised explosive devices."

"Those who are going to be attending this event should feel very secure because we have worked very hard to make sure we're prepared for the worst out there and we deter anything bad from happening."

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