United States Army Military District of Washington


The United States Army Military District of Washington (MDW) is one of nineteen major commands of the United States Army. Its headquarters are located at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C. The missions of the units in the Military District of Washington include ceremonial tasks as well as a combat role in the defense of the National Capital Region.

United States Army Military District of Washington
United States Army Military District of Washington CSIB.svg
United States Army Military District of Washington shoulder sleeve insignia
Active12 March 1862–1869, 1921-present
Country United States
Branch United States Army
TypeArmy Command
Garrison/HQFort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
Nickname(s)Guardian of the Nation's Capital
Motto(s)Haec Protegimus
("This We Guard")
WebsiteOfficial Website
Major General Allan M. Pepin
Harry H. Bandholtz
John T. Cole
Distinctive unit insignia
Military District of Washington DUI.PNG
The U.S. Military District of Washington Joint Armed Forces Color Guard presents the Colors at the USDA Headquarters' Jefferson Auditorium, in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, 4 Nov. 2014

Besides Fort McNair, the following installations are included under the umbrella of the MDW's command:

The Military District of Washington also represents the U.S. Army in the Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region (JFHQ-NCR), as well as oversight of all ceremonial operations in Arlington National Cemetery.

The current Commanding General of the Military District of Washington is Major General Allan M. Pepin. The Military District of Washington Chief of Staff, and liaison to the JFHQ-NCR, is Colonel Gregory B. Beaudoin. The Commanding General, Chief of Staff, and Command Sergeant Major of the Military District of Washington hold the same positions at the JFHQ-NCR, which supervises military planning for the defense of the National Capital Region.


The MDW can trace its origin back to the American Civil War when it was formed on March 12, 1862, as the Military District of Washington, and it included the areas of the District of Columbia, Alexandria, Virginia, and Fort Washington, Maryland. It was first under the command of Bvt. Major General James S. Wadsworth.[1] It became part of the Department of Washington under the 22nd Army Corps on February 2, 1863 and it was disbanded in 1869.

The MDW was reformed in 1921 when the War Department created the District of Washington. Today MDW is one of the Army's major commands. Its installations include Fort McNair, the nation's third-oldest military post still in use, and Fort Myer, Gen. Philip Sheridan's cavalry showplace and site of the first military aircraft flight.

The District of Washington initially included Fort Washington, Md., Fort Hunt, Va., the District of Columbia and Fort Myer. With the dissolution of the District of Washington in 1927, the commanding general of the 16th Infantry Brigade at Fort Hunt became responsible for conducting military ceremonies and administering discipline to service members in the nation's capital.

In 1942, about five months after the U.S. entered World War II, the War Department created the U.S. Army Military District of Washington to plan for a ground defense of the nation's capital.

MDW was headquartered during those years in "temporary" buildings at Gravelly Point, Virginia., near Washington National Airport. It moved to Second Street, S.W., in Washington, D.C., in the early 1960s, and to its present headquarters at Fort Lesley J. McNair in 1966.

During the World War II era, MDW was gradually reorganized as a service-and-support command. One of MDW's main responsibilities was servicing the newly built Pentagon through the Army Headquarters commandant. The United States Army Band, "Pershing's Own," also became an integral part of the command's ceremonial mission during this period.

At the end of World War II, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was deactivated in Germany. This regiment, the oldest U.S. infantry unit, was reactivated in 1948 and assigned to MDW to meet the command's tactical commitments and for military ceremonies.

Although MDW's mission has remained the same, it has gained, lost and regained various installations and support responsibilities over the years. Vint Hill Farms and Arlington Hall Station, both in Virginia, and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., were once part of MDW. Cameron Station and Davison Army Airfield, near Fort Belvoir, joined MDW in the 1950s.

In 1980 MDW gained responsibility for the administration and daily operation of Arlington National Cemetery, in addition to the ceremonial support the command has always provided.

In 1987 MDW's support responsibilities for the Pentagon were transferred elsewhere. Fort Belvoir became a major subordinate command in 1988.

In 1992 Davison Aviation Command was reorganized as the Operational Support Airlift Command, with responsibilities for fixed-wing Army aircraft support throughout the United States. Additionally, they provide rotary-wing (helicopter) support to Army leadership and distinguished officials in the National Capital Region.

In April 1993, MDW reorganized its MACOM staff and the Fort Myer Military Community formed a garrison staff to support Forts Myer and McNair, and Cameron Station.

On 1 October 1993, Fort Meade, and Fort Ritchie in Maryland, and A.P. Hill in Virginia joined the MDW family of installations. The command more than doubled in size as MDW went from four posts totaling 9,802 acres (39.67 km2) to eight posts totaling 91,889 acres (371.86 km2). The number of service members and civilians on MDW installations also increased from 16,166 to 61,531.

Cameron Station officially closed on 30 September 1995. Most of the organizations were relocated to either Fort Belvoir or Fort Myer.

Fort Hamilton, New York, became the newest member of MDW's family of installations when it was transferred to MDW from U.S. Army Forces Command 6 October 1997. The post is 172 years old.

On 10 June 2010, Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh rescinded MDW's responsibility for the administration and daily operation of Arlington National Cemetery. However, MDW still maintains ceremonial support for funerals and guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Ceremonial dutiesEdit

Since its inception in 1942, the Military District of Washington has been involved in protecting and staging special event ceremonies. These ceremonies include inauguration ceremonies starting with Franklin Roosevelt's 4th inauguration on 20 January 1945. the MDW is also responsible for state funerals. They include anyone within Washington who is granted a state funeral. This includes former Presidents, Senators, Representatives, and other dignitaries. The MDW is extensively involved in the planning of and execution of a state funeral including advice and consent from the family and ceremonial support outside of Washington. The latter included a state funeral held for Richard Nixon held in the shadow of his boyhood home when he died following a stroke in April 1994.


Current units commanded by the district include;[2]


Shoulder sleeve insigniaEdit

  • Description: On a blue oval 2 7/8 inches in height fimbriated white within a 3/16-inch red border, issuing from a green mount in base fimbriated argent, the Washington Monument of the last superimposed by a red double-handed sword bendwise, fimbriated white, hilt and pommel yellow; all fimbriations 1/32-inch.
  • Symbolism:
The functions of the organization are indicated by the double-handed sword, symbolic of protection, over the Washington Monument, representing the area concerned.
The blue represents the Navy and the Infantry; the scarlet the Field Artillery, Coast Artillery and Engineers, and the green and gold the Military Police.
  • Background:
  1. The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for Military District of Washington on 1942-09-26
  2. Redesignated for US Army Military District of Washington on 1971-07-21.

Distinctive unit insigniaEdit

  • Description: A gold color metal and enamel device 1 3/16 inches in height overall consisting of an oval its upper half blue and containing a gold star in the center, the lower half divided into seven stripes alternately white and red. Bordering the bottom of the oval, a semicircular gold scroll inscribed with the words HAEC PROTEGIMUS in black, the scroll ends folded twice and forked with the points up below a border of gold oak leaves terminating at either side of a gold acorn with point up at top center, crossed in front two swords their gold hilts emerging from the folds of the scroll and their white blades terminating outside the oak leaf border.
  • Symbolism:
The background of the National colors refers to the seat of the government, which lies within the Military District of Washington, with the dome-shaped upper part suggesting the Capitol building.
The Command's responsibilities of conducting ceremonies for the President of the United States and foreign dignitaries, Medal of Honor presentations, military funerals and guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are represented by the gold star.
The oak leaves symbolize strength and courage and the crossed swords indicate the command's mission to defend the Nation's Capital.
The motto translates to "This We Guard."
  • Background:
  1. The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for Headquarters, Military District of Washington on 1968-09-06;
  2. Revised to delete Headquarters from the designation on 1968-10-28;
  3. Redesignated for US Army Military District of Washington on 1971-07-21.

List of commandersEdit

No. Commander Term
Portrait Name Took office Left office Term length
Brigadier General
James S. Wadsworth
17 March 18627 September 1862174 days
Major General
Harry Hill Bandholtz
19211923~2 years, 0 days
Lewis, John TaylorMajor General
John T. Lewis
14 May 19426 September 19442 years, 115 days
Thompson, Charles FullingtonMajor General
Charles F. Thompson
6 September 194414 July 1945311 days
Young, Robert NicholasBrigadier General
Robert N. Young
14 July 194515 June 1946336 days
Ferenbaugh, Claude BirkettBrigadier General
Claude B. Ferenbaugh
15 June 19466 November 19471 year, 144 days
Gay, Hobart RaymondMajor General
Hobart R. Gay
6 November 19476 August 19491 year, 273 days
Cole, John TupperColonel
John T. Cole
6 August 194928 February 1950173 days
Herren, Thomas WadeMajor General
Thomas W. Herren
1 March 19508 March 19522 years, 7 days
Wright, Edwin KennedyMajor General
Edwin K. Wright
8 March 195226 February 19541 year, 355 days
Stokes, John H. Jr.Major General
John H. Stokes Jr.
15 April 19545 February 19561 year, 296 days
Van Houten, John GibsonMajor General
John G. Van Houten
6 February 1956May 1959~3 years, 84 days
Gailey, Charles Kenon Jr.Major General
Charles K. Gailey Jr.
May 1959May 1961~2 years, 0 days
Gavan, Paul A.Major General
Paul A. Gavan
May 1961July 1963~2 years, 61 days
Wehke, Philip CampbellMajor General
Philip C. Wehle
August 1963August 1965~2 years, 0 days
Herrick, Curtis JamesMajor General
Curtis J. Herrick
2 October 196531 May 19671 year, 241 days
O'Malley, Charles S.Major General
Charles S. O'Malley Jr.
1 June 19671 September 19692 years, 92 days
Gleszer, Ronald M.Major General
Roland M. Gleszer
1 September 1969April 1972~2 years, 213 days
Adamson, James BradshawMajor General
James B. Adamson
1 May 197212 November 19731 year, 195 days
Davison, Frederic EllisMajor General
Frederic E. Davison
12 November 197322 September 1974314 days
Fairfield, Ronald James Jr.Major General
Ronald J. Fairfield Jr.
22 September 19741 August 1975313 days
Yerks, Robert GeorgeMajor General
Robert G. Yerks
1 August 197515 July 19771 year, 348 days
Dohleman, Kenneth E.Major General
Kenneth E. Dohleman
1 August 19771979~2 years, 0 days
Arter, RobertMajor General
Robert Arter
(born 1929)
19791981~2 years, 0 days
Curry, Jerry RalphMajor General
Jerry R. Curry
19811983~2 years, 0 days
Ballantyne, John Lawson IIIMajor General
John L. Ballantyne III
(born 1931)
19831986~3 years, 0 days
Hilbert, Donald C.Major General
Donald C. Hilbert
19861990~4 years, 0 days
Streeter, William FrederickMajor General
William F. Streeter
(born 1937)
199020 May 1993~3 years, 0 days
Gorden, Fred AugustusMajor General
Fred A. Gorden
(born 1940)
20 May 199329 August 19952 years, 101 days
Foley, Robert FranklinMajor General
Robert F. Foley
(born 1941)
29 August 199513 August 19982 years, 349 days
Ivany, Robert RudolphMajor General
Robert R. Ivany
(born 1947)
13 August 199828 July 20001 year, 350 days
Jackson, James T.Major General
James T. Jackson
28 July 20002003~3 years, 0 days
Jackman, Galen BruceMajor General
Galen B. Jackman
(born 1951)
200321 July 2005~2 years, 0 days
Swan, Guy Carleston IIIMajor General
Guy C. Swan III
(born 1954)
21 July 20055 June 20071 year, 319 days
Rowe, Richard J.Major General
Richard J. Rowe Jr.
5 June 200723 June 20092 years, 18 days
Horst, Karl R.Major General
Karl R. Horst
23 June 20093 June 20111 year, 345 days
Linnington, Michael S.Major General
Michael Linnington
(born 1958)
3 June 201124 June 20132 years, 21 days
Buchanan, Jeffrey S.Major General
Jeffrey S. Buchanan
24 June 20139 June 20151 year, 350 days
Becker, BradleyMajor General
Bradley Becker
9 June 201528 April 20171 year, 323 days
Howard, Michael L.Major General
Michael L. Howard
28 April 20174 June 20192 years, 37 days
Jones, Omar J. IVMajor General
Omar Jones
4 June 20198 June 20212 years, 4 days
Pepin, Allan M.Major General
Allan Pepin
8 June 2021Incumbent349 days

See alsoEdit


  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  1. ^ Eicher, p. 547
  2. ^ "The U.S. Army Military District of Washington". Retrieved 22 November 2019.

External linksEdit

  • Military District of Washington