Michigan National Guard
Story by Capt. Joe Legros
WASHINGTON – Soldiers with the 210th Military Police Battalion, 177th Military Police Brigade, Michigan Army National Guard, based in Taylor, Michigan, recently arrived in the nation’s capital to support security efforts and protect key infrastructure. While doing so, the newly arrived Soldiers were greeted by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III.
While walking the U.S. Capitol grounds, Austin greeted Soldiers and thanked them for their service in Washington.
“My primary role is perimeter security,” said Spc. Brandt Cygan with the battalion’s 46th Military Police Company. “But, I never dreamed I would get to meet the secretary of defense.”
Brandt, from Bay City, Michigan, has spent all six years of his service with the 46th MP Co. His immediate shift supervisor was nearby when Austin stopped to greet him along the Capitol fence perimeter.
“We’re all supporting the cause here in D.C.,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Bokmiller, Brandt’s supervisor and squad leader with the 46th MP Co. “It is great to know our military leaders at the highest levels are aware of our efforts.”
On the civilian side, Bokmiller works as a supervisor at a grocery store. He said his employer has been flexible with his schedule, enabling him to successfully conduct many missions and training events throughout his military career.
“Aside from a couple of years where I helped out with a chemical response mission, coming to D.C. is one of the few times the military shipped me outside the state,” he said.
Bokmiller has spent all 13 years of his service with the 46th MP Co., saying he plans to remain a military police officer and stick with the 46th his entire career.
“It’s an amazing organization,” he said.
Earlier in the day, 177th MP Bde. leadership conducted a site survey to determine the best locations to emplace Soldiers to conduct perimeter security. Later that day, Austin walked the same ground with the brigade’s senior leaders.
“It’s not every day these soldier’s get to meet the secretary of defense,” said Col. Chris McKinney, commander of the 177th MP Bde. and Joint Task Force Independence. “However, our Soldiers are consummate professionals and are doing a fantastic job protecting the Capitol.”
McKinney oversees all military personnel assigned to the Capitol mission. This includes thousands of service members from 19 states and territories.
The numbers also include National Guard Soldiers and Airmen representing different military specialties such as engineers, infantry, signal and military police. Regardless of specialty, the majority of Soldiers are sworn in as “special U.S. Capitol police” upon arriving in Washington.
“I love it,” said Brandt. “I get to perform my military police duties while serving my state and my country.”
Brandt and his fellow Soldiers provided support to civilian authorities by assisting U.S. Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies. Their primary mission is to protect lives and infrastructure, while maintaining the rule of law.
At least 25,000 National Guard Soldiers have been authorized to conduct security, communication and logistical missions in support of federal and District authorities leading up to and through the 59th Presidential Inauguration. Additionally, the National Guard has been requested to continue supporting district and federal law enforcement agencies with security, communications, medical evacuation, logistics, and safety support through mid-March.