The "President's Own" Corps does not belong strictly to any single Branch of the American military, although its components nominally do - it is a hodgepodge of different units, many tracing their historical roots all the way back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Membership in Old Guard Regiments is open to both U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps personnel, while the combat divisions (President's Own Armored, 1st & 2nd Grenadiers) nominally belong to the Army. The "President's Own" Marine Band, i.e. the United States Marine Band, is made up strictly of USMC personnel. Pilots for the Aviation Wing are drawn from both the United States Army Air Forces and the United States Navy's aviation elements (including Marine Aviation).
Service in the PresidentIal Escort Corps is conditional upon a soldier having received one of the U.S. Military's awards for gallantry. These military orders are worn on the neck, leading to the perjorative nickname of "Stiff necker" - or "Toy Soldier", for their ceremonial pageantry and the elaborate nature of their uniforms.
Presidential Escort Corps:
- Headquarters Office, Presidential Escort Corps
- Old Guard Infantry Regiment
- Old Guard Cavalry Regiment
- Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps
- Old Guard Presentation Detatchment
- United States Marine Band / President's Own Marine Band
- President's Own Police Regiment
- The President's Own Armored Division
- 1st President's Own Grenadier Division
- 2nd President's Own Grenadier Division
- Presidential Escort Aviation Wing
Old Guard Regiments, Presentation Detatchment & the U.S. Marine BandEdit
The Old Guard Regiments are the most senior formations in the Presidential Escort Corps, having been constituted from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment - a unit that traces its lineage all the way back to the First American Regiment of 1784, the first peace-time military unit of the newly-established United States and nucleus of the U.S. Army proper. (Although the U.S. Army claims lineage back to 1775 in the form the Continental Army, that formation was disbanded at the cecession of hostilities and the U.S. Army created later, well after the end of the Revolutionary War when the United States had formally established itself.)
Together, the two Old Guard Regiments are responsible for the personal protection of the President, the Roosevelt House [the Executive Residence], the Vice President and - when Congress is in Session with the Vice President in attendance - the Capitol Building. The Infantry Regiment guards the person of the Commander-in-Chief and his/her current location, plus the Roosevelt House, and acts largely as a counterpart to the Secret Service. The Cavalry Regiment - with an actual mounted battalion, a motorized battalion, a mechanized battalion and a helicopter battalion - protects the President and Vice President while on the move as well as provides mobile support for the Old Guard Infantry Regiment and the Secret Service. In extreme cases, either of these units are also called in for civil police duties.
The Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps and Old Guard Presentation Detatchment are considered to be of equal ceremonial status and seniority to the two Regiments proper, but function independently of them. They are concerned purely with "pomp & ceremony": performing at official Executive functions, Inaugurations, holiday festivities, State funerals and other such occasions. Prominent duties of these units include the welcoming of important foreign dignitaries, the ceremonial opening and closing of joint of sessions of Congress, Presidential Inauguration parades, the July 4th Parade, the Christmas Day Parade and the ceremonial "ushering in" of the New Year. There are also other, less public but still common functions. Parties from the Presentation Detatchment and Fife & Drum Corps perform the formal "seeing off" and "welcoming home" for the President whenever he [or currently, she] leaves the District of Columbia (although the welcome home becomes a much more grandoise and public affair whenever he/she is coming back from extended absences or trips which take him/her outside the country). The Fife & Drum Corps and Presentation Detatchment also perform small observances on the birthdays of prominent deceased Americans and on holidays or days of significance. The publicity, scope and nature of these events vary significantly. For example, Franklin D. Roosevelt's birthday - January 30th - is an unofficial Public Holiday (most American citizens get the day off) and is marked with considerable fanfair, while the anniversary of the Battle of Cowpens [a turning point in the American Revolutionary War] is marked with a simple gun salute and short musical performance.
As a final duty, the entirety of these two ceremonial Old Guard units - along with President's Own Marine Band - form up wearing complete Full Dress uniforms in the courtyard of the Roosevelt House every morning, regardless of weather, just before sunrise. At Dawn, a small party (selected by lottery the previous evening) from the Fife & Drum Corps and Marine Band plays "Reveille" while a Color Guard from one of the two Old Guard Regiments raises the flag for the day, then the entire units perform "Hail to the Chief" followed by the U.S. National Anthem. At Dusk, a much smaller form of the ceremony is repeated: two selected servicemen, one from the Fife & Drum Corps and one from the Marine Band, play "Taps" while another Color Guard lowers and retires the flag for the night.
Membership in the four "Old Guard" formations is temporary and evaluated on an individual basis, with servicemen being on assignment from their parent Divisions for fixed periods of time. Members are chosen for their service records, but also for their percieved patriotic zeal and political reliability. To a certain extent, political favoritism and nepotism probably play into it as well, although this does little - if anything - to diminish their perceived prestige and prowess or their high esprit de corps.
Honor Guard to the PresidentEdit
The Honor Guard to the President is the elite within the elite of the two Old Guard Regiments: responsible for the direct, personal protection of the President. Members of the Honor Guard wear unique Full Dress uniforms when on duty, including prominent black busbies (a sort of cylindrical fur dress headwear) with tall, bright scarlet feather plumes and golden cords.
The Honor Guard is comprised of two platoons: the 1st Platoon, A Company, Old Guard Infantry Regiment and the 1st Platoon, A Company, Old Guard Cavalry Regiment. The precise Dress uniform ensemble varies between these two units, but is distinct from that of the rest of the Old Guard. A soldier of the Honor Guard Infantry Platoon is posted at the door to the President's private quarters within the Roosevelt House, another two at the each entrance. The remainder of the Infantry Platoon takes up pre-designated spots throughout the huge mansion, while the Cavalry Platoon patrols the grounds around the Roosevelt House from horseback. The Honor Guard is the only part of the Presidential Escort Corps which actually takes up residence within the Roosevelt House itself and which is stationed within the property. The rest of the Old Guard only assembles in the courtyard for specified occasions.
Obviously, when the President is not residing in the Roosevelt House, neither is the Honor Guard. It travels everywhere with the Commander-in-Chief, and escort details are dispatched for even minor things like an outing to get lunch. One special member of the Honor Guard Infantry Platoon, bearing the title of Retainer, accompanies the President at all times: this is the Honor Guardsman who is posted outside the entrance to his/her private rooms. There is actually a full squad of designated Retainers (i.e. 13), but often only one is acting in that particular capacity at any given time. The entire squad is only assembled whenever the President ventured outside the grounds of the Roosevelt House, while additional Retainers can be activated when the Commander-in-Chief goes outside onto the Roosevelt House grounds or when guests are expected. When the President and his/her Retainers venture out into the wider washington, D.C. area, the majority of the Retainers are dressed in plain clothes. following the President - who is accompanied by an entourage of at least one, but more usually three or four, Retainers in normal Full Dress - from a distance. The Retainer who is assigned to the President inside the Roosevelt House for that day (i.e. the one posted by his/her door) is the only person permitted to bring food or drink to the President while he/she is inside the private rooms, and follows him/her around throughout the mansion. The remaining Honor Guards are simply posted at doors, windows or entrances to various rooms, doing little more than saluting the President when he/she passes by and opening doors.
The Honor Guardsmen, when posted as sentries throughout the Roosevelt House or some other building, are the only United States servicemen not required to salute their superior officers. They are to reserve this right soley for the Commander-in-Chief and to render acknowledgement for anyone else by clicking their heels and standing at attention just before said person walks by, then relaxing once they have passed through the doorway / entrance or around the corner.
President's Own Police RegimentEdit
The President's Own Police Regiment is drawn from members of the National Guard serving in units that have been "Activated" and deployed to auxillary combat or overseas garrison duties, or from particularly distinguished officers in State-, Local- and Federal-level law enforcement services (on a purely individual, meritized basis). The purpose of the Police Regiment is to serve as an elite police force for the District of Columbia and to provide general security at events such as parades or speeches, but it additionally serves a similar ceremonial role to the Old Guard and marches in parades. The President's Own Police Regiment often operates in concert with units from the 1st and 2nd Grenadies, which also perform policing duties around the capital in addition to functioning as its military garrison.
Membership in the President's Own Police for servicemen of the National Guard - a primarily Conscript-oriented service - constitutes a form of voluntary enlistment, as if they were joining the Army or other "Primary" military Service Branch. Thus, the 3 year mandatory term of the conscript in question is converted to a normal 6 year enlistment term with the number of years already served being subtracted (i.e. a National Guardsman halfway through the 2nd year of his conscription would serve four & a half years in the Regiment). Prospective enlistees are permitted to decline the offer of joining the President's Own Police, but doing so is generally not looked favorably upon by one's future would-be employers. Not many would turn down the numerous benefits, perks and prestige that comes with membership in the unit, although it does happen occasionally.
President's Own Grenadier DivisionsEdit
President's Own Armored DivisionEdit
Presidential Escort Aviation WingEdit
The Presidential Escort Aviation Wing is the unit responsible for operating the President's personal C-150 Mammoth, Columbia One (a.k.a. the Sacred Cow) and the President's personal helicopter, Columbia Two. The Escort Fighter Group, an Aviation Group of P-56 fighters responsible for the protection of Columbias One and Two, is also part of this unit (although Columbia Two is primarily escorted by the helicopter-equipped component of the Old Guard Cavalry Regiment, with the Escort Group playing a supporting role).
Personnel for the Aviation Wing, like those of the more-senior Old Guard units, are drawn from all aviation elements of the U.S. Military's primary branches: the United States Army Air Forces, United States Naval Aviation units and United States Marine Corps Aviation units. They are assigned to the Presidential Escort Wing on a rotational basis and never actually removed from their parent units. However, many of the Wing's members have been "on loan" for long periods of time and will likely never be returned to their original formations, their positions long-since having been permenately filled.
The Escort Fighter Group's pilots are, like Old Guard personnel, all decorated veterans. However, admittance into this particular unit of the President's Own is based considerably more on skill than just awards and demonstrations of bravery or patriotism. Operating a high-performance fighter aircraft is a very skill-intensive task at which only a small number of people can truly excel, while the protection of the President while he/she is in the air is a matter of considerable importance. It is, after all, impossible to employ the same degrees of planning, route-checking and multi-layered security that would be used when the President is traveling on the ground (or, to a lesser extent, when traveling by helicopter). Furthermore, the state of war between the U.S. and the Russian Empire, not to mention the considerable capabilities of the Tsar's Imperial Air Force, means that the threat of attack by hostile aircraft - although remote - is quite real.
Fighter pilots of the Escort Group are often referred to by the monicker "the President's Aces" and, more recently, "Charlotte's Angels", after incumbent President Charlotte Jane Clariston.
"Marshal of the Guard"Edit
The current Commander-in-Chief - i.e. the incumbent President of the United States - is accorded the additional title "Marshal of the Guard", signifying the American Head-of-State's personal command of the Presidential Escort Corps (which is entirely separate from the regular U.S. Military's Chain of Command, answering only to its own Headquarters office and to the President him/herself).
The title is officially granted at a formal ceremony after the President's Inauguration. Just prior to this event, the President is presented with a specially-tailored uniform connected to the title: a further embellishment on the already-elaborate Old Guard Officers' ensemble. He/she will put the uniform on, then proceed to exit the Roosevelt House and enter the courtyard. Here, the Captain-General [the actual practical commander of the Presidential Escort Corps] presents him/her with the Marshal of the Guard's uniform which was worn by his/her predecessor, neatly folded. The Captain-General places this previous uniform at the feet of his new Commander-in-Chief, whereupon it is then personally burned by the President using a torch - an event which only the Captain-General, his senior Escort Corps officers and the Honor Guard to the President are allowed to witness - to signify the transfer of the title.
After this, the President is brought a special white horse and escorted by the Mounted Platoon of the Honor Guard to the National Mall, where he/she conducts a formal ceremonial review of the entire Presidential Escort Corps arrayed in parade formation on the lawn, between the Washington Monument and Capitol Hill. Unlike the first portion of the ceremony, this event is a widely-attended Public spectacle.
The ceremony ends with the President dismounting his/her horse in front of the United States Capitol and ascending its steps to meet the Vice President (in his/her capacity as President of the United States Senate), the President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate [the de facto Presiding Officer of the Senate, since the Vice President is often not in attendance] and the Speaker of the House [the Presiding Officer of the United States House of Representatives]. The President / Commander-in-Chief presents the Marshal of the Guard's dress sword to the three officials, whereupon the Vice President / President of the Senate returns it. This signifies the voluntary submission of the newly-elected President - in his/her capacity as the country's supreme military authority - to the service and wishes of the Elected Representatives of the United States (and by extension, the people of the nation as a whole). This recent precedent, started by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940s, pays homage to the designs / expectations of the United States Constitution's writers (the Founding Fathers), that Congress is the most powerful branch of the country's government. In practice, however, the Executive - i.e. the Office of the President - has developed into the most powerful Branch by far. Thus, some Americans (particularly detractors of the New Deal) have interprited the ceremony as a sort of "lip service", comparing it to the way in which Roman Emperors maintained the trappings, formalities and illusions of the Roman Republic even as they evolved far more practical authority than the Senate.