“CBS This Morning,” we spent an afternoon riding with the unit that responds at a moment’s notice to protect the D.C. airspace. Jeff Pegues reports.
The airspace above Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area is the most restricted airspace in the United States. The agile U.S. Coast Guard unit is responsible for intercepting any potential threats that may appear in the sky.
North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) commands the Coast Guard unit assigned to DC’s Rotary Wing Air Intercept Mission. This unit is comprised of several MH-65D Dolphin helicopters and assigned to make sure small aircraft do not stray into the 30-mile Special Flight Rules Area radius that surrounds the White House. The Coast Guard is uniquely poised to carry out this mission because unlike the Defense Department, it has broader federal authority to enforce laws in the nation’s capital.
DC Coast Guard units can also enforce temporary security zones, such as a presidential inauguration. To conduct this, units are strategically stationed along the Potomac River, the DC/Virginia shoreline, and the Anacostia River. Even though the inauguration itself is a one-day event, the security zone is in place for ten days in total to ensure the security of the president.
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