BALTIMORE — As the third night of Baltimore's curfew set in on Thursday, the Maryland National Guard stood watch over an empty City Hall. Their real action, however, took place 31 miles away at the Joint Operations Command in Adelphi, Maryland.
At 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, the makeshift operations center was activated in a converted gymnasium at the Maryland National Guard Center to coordinate the approximately 2,000 soldiers streaming into the city from across Maryland, explained Capt. Patrick Elliot, who oversees day operations at the JOC.
In an interview Thursday evening, Elliot described JTF Maryland's role in responding to the civil unrest in Baltimore.
"Anytime civilian assets are unable to address a problem, they call us in," Elliot said. "Our job is to respond to and direct all Army assets in the state of Maryland."
On Monday evening, the Maryland National Guard received Gov. Larry Hogan's call to assist city and state police in responding to the violent protests that engulfed Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray.
"We rehearse this every year, if not every couple months, on top of all the other Army [training] requirements" Elliott said. "I think it shows in the quick response that we were able to put on the ground to support the governor."
The JOC, staffed by the 58th Troop Command, receives missions from the Maryland State Police through liaison officers to provide resources the police lack, logistical or transportation support and requests for extra forces to bolster security throughout Baltimore.
The Maryland National Guard posted this photo on Facebook on Thursday.
Photo Credit: Maryland National Guard photo
The mission has thus far proved successful, according to Elliot. The JOC has been able to provide continuous guidance on how to respond to conflict, how and when to use force, and what are appropriate escalation and de-escalation tactics.
"As a troop on the ground, it's good to know that at the end of the day, you're helping to protect the community," Elliot said.
"The soldiers know that they're protecting lives and property in Baltimore."