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Guard's judge advocates brief Soldiers and Airmen in DC

U.S. Army Maj. Donald Cravins, judge advocate, District of Columbia National Guard, briefs Soldiers and Airmen during Operation Capitol Response at the D.C. Armory in Washington, D.C., Jan 10, 2021. National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from several states have traveled to Washington to provide support to federal and district authorities leading up to the 59th presidential inauguration.

U.S. Army Maj. Donald Cravins, judge advocate, District of Columbia National Guard, briefs Soldiers and Airmen during Operation Capitol Response at the D.C. Armory in Washington, D.C., Jan 10, 2021. National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from several states have traveled to Washington to provide support to federal and district authorities leading up to the 59th presidential inauguration.

WASHINGTON – Several District of Columbia National Guard (DCNG) judge advocates are providing guidance to Soldiers and Airmen during Operation Capitol Response in the nation's capital.

Thousands of National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from many states have traveled to the National Capital Region to support federal and D.C. authorities leading up to the 59th presidential inauguration.

Maj. Don Cravins Jr., a command judge advocate with the DCNG Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, is one of several judge advocates and paralegals charged with ensuring Soldiers and Airmen are briefed on mission rules and guidelines while they are in D.C.

"The safety and protection of the public is our top priority at the District of Columbia National Guard," said Cravins. "One of the most important jobs of the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate is to ensure Soldiers and Airmen are briefed and trained on the laws and rules that form the mission."

Cravins has served nearly 10 years in the National Guard and has been a licensed attorney since 1998.

"As an Army lawyer, my job is to ensure Soldiers and Airmen clearly understand the do's and don'ts of the mission," said Cravins. "My teammates and I brief them on the rules of conduct, the use of force and de-escalation techniques, the laws of the District of Columbia and on Department of Defense regulations. We also go through real-life training scenarios and explain the rights and protections allotted to them as Soldiers and Airmen under Title 32 of the United States Code."

Some Guardsmen who are supporting Operation Capitol Response will be sworn in as special police by civilian law enforcement agencies such as the U.S. Capitol Police, U.S. Park Police and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. Their duties will include protecting members of Congress and other congressional personnel and securing the grounds and property of the U.S. Capitol.

"Knowing and understanding the rules related to the use of force, self-defense and defense of others and rules of conduct are vital keys to ensuring a successful mission," said Cravins.

Cravins is a former state legislator and served as chief of staff to a U.S. senator. Having worked in government and at the U.S. Capitol, Cravins feels a special relationship with this mission.

"I am proud to be an American Soldier and to serve with the men and women of the National Guard," he said. "I, along with many other men and women, are working behind the scenes to ensure our Soldiers and Airmen have the tools and resources necessary to successfully perform the mission. We have a long and proud history of supporting our nation, its Capitol and the District of Columbia, and we are working hard to continue that tradition."

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