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Our History


The U.S. Army Military District of Washington (USAMDW) can trace its origin back to 1921 when the War Department created the District of Washington. USAMDW has remained dedicated to ceremonial excellence within the National Capital Region since its inception and is proud to showcase military traditions and history while safeguarding the nation’s capital. Serving as the face of the military in the nation’s capital is a privilege, and Soldiers wear the USAMDW patch with pride, representing our Army heritage. Explore the history of the USAMDW.

For more than 100 years, USAMDW has remained dedicated to ceremonial excellence within the National Capital Region and its service members and civilians are proud to safeguard and showcase military traditions and history by conducting and supporting multiple, diverse Army and Joint missions.

As the missions of the JTF-NCR/USAMDW continue to grow, so does our joint team. Today, Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and Guardians serve side-by-side every day to ensure JTF-NCR/USAMDW’s readiness for every ceremonial and homeland defense mission as Guardians of the Nation’s Capital.

  • 1921 – The War Department created the District of Washington as an organizational headquarters comprised of Fort Washington, Md.; Fort Hunt, Va.; the District of Columbia; and Fort Myer, Va.Black and white historic image of a large military band standing in rows/formation on a grass field in front of a white flagpole and two 2-story brick buildings.

  • 1922 – The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own" was formed by order of General John J. Pershing.

  • 1927 – With the dissolution of the District of Washington, the commanding general of the 16th Infantry Brigade at Fort Hunt became responsible for conducting military ceremonies and administering disciple to service members in the nation’s capital.

  • 1930s - 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.

  • 1942 – The War Department created the Military District of Washington five months after the start of World War II in part to plan for a ground defense of the nation’s capital.
  • 1942 – MDW was headquartered in temporary buildings at Gravelly Point, Va., near Reagan Airport.
  • 1942 – The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” became an integral part of the command’s ceremonial mission. While “Pershing’s Own” was overseas during the war, a contingent of the Band remained on Fort Myer and was known as the Auxiliary Band or the 366th Band. The Auxiliary Band assumed responsibilities for funerals at Arlington National Cemetery and performed at dances, concerts, broadcasts, parades and funerals. (The establishment of the Auxiliary Band marks the beginning of the present day U.S. Army Ceremonial Band.)
  • 1942- “Battery X” was formed. Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACS) members would undergo six weeks of intense antiaircraft artillery training. The WAACs were informed that they were the first women in U.S. history to be recognized as part of a military unit and were authorized to wear the branch insignia of the Coast Artillery. Furthermore, as a unit defending the nation's capital, they also wore the shoulder sleeve insignia of the Military District of Washington.
  • 1943 - During World War II, 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.
  • 1948 – The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was reactivated and assigned to MDW to meet the command’s tactical commitments and for military ceremonies.

  • Watch The Big Picture to learn more about MDW during the 1950s and 60s.

  • 1960 – The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps was established. The Fife and Drum Corps is one of the United States Army's premier bands and provides musical support to the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), the Army's official ceremonial unit and escort to the President of the United States.
  • 1960 – MDW headquarters moved to Second Street SW, Washington, D.C.
  • 1961 – MDW revives Twilight Tattoo to highlight its ceremonial units to the public.
  • 1966 – MDW headquarters moved to its present location of Fort Lesley J. McNair.

  • 1971 – The Military District of Washington (MDW) was redesignated as the U.S. Army Military District of Washington (USAMDW).
  • 1978 – USAMDW began to recruit women for joint honor ceremonies at the White House. To be eligible for consideration, women candidates had to the meet the same selection criteria as male candidates, including being at least 5’8” tall. The women selected were assigned to a ceremonial Women’s Detachment at Fort Myer. All of their ceremonial duties and training were conducted with The Old Guard.

  • 1980 – USAMDW gained responsibility for the administration and daily operation of Arlington National Cemetery, in addition to the support the command had previously provided.
  • 1987 – USAMDW’s support responsibilities for the Pentagon were transferred elsewhere.
  • 1988 - Fort Belvoir in Virginia became a major subordinate command.



  • 1992 - Davison Aviation Command was reorganized as the Operational Support Airlift Command with responsibilities for fixed-wing Army aircraft support throughout the United States and rotary-wing (helicopter) support to Army leadership and distinguished officials in the National Capital Region.
  • 1993 - USAMDW reorganized its MACOM staff and the Fort Myer Military Community formed a garrison staff to support Fort Myer, Fort McNair and Cameron Station.
  • 1993 – On Oct. 1, Fort Meade, Fort Holabird, and Fort Ritchie in Maryland, and Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, joined the USAMDW family. The command more than doubled in size as USAMDW went from four posts totaling 9,802 acres to eight posts totaling 91,889 acres. The number of service members and civilians on USAMDW posts increased from 16,166 to 61,531.
  • 1995 – Cameron Station officially closed Sept. 30. Most of the organizations were relocated to Fort Belvoir and Fort Myer.
  • 1997 – Fort Hamilton, N.Y., became the newest member of the USAMDW family when it was transferred to USAMDW from U.S. Army Forces Command on Oct. 6.

  • 2001 – Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” were preparing for the annual Spirit of America show when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. They quickly set aside their ceremonial functions and provided invaluable support at the Pentagon. In addition, the MDW Engineer Company was one of the first responders to provide rescue and recovery at the Pentagon.
  • 2002 – Upon creation of the Installation Management Agency to standardize garrisons, the USAMDW commanding general’s garrison management responsibilities transitioned to senior mission commander responsibilities, an oversight function that allowed the command to focus more fully on its ceremonial, force protection, legal and contingency missions.
  • 2004 - After 9/11, military and civilian leaders recognized a need for strong cooperation and communication between agencies and national and local units in times of emergency or to prevent such attacks in the first place. USNORTHCOM was subsequently established, and Joint Force Headquarters for the National Capital Region was activated. USAMDW became the Army component of JFHQ-NCR and welcomed an even greater role in homeland defense and military assistance to civil authorities, while retaining its ceremonial and other support missions to the President, Secretary of Defense, Army leadership, and the American people.

  • 2010 – The Secretary of the Army rescinded USAMDW's responsibility for the administration and daily operation of Arlington National Cemetery. However, USAMDW still maintains ceremonial support for funerals and the guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

  • 2021 – JFHQ-NCR became a standing joint task force as Joint Task Force–National Capital Region (JTF-NCR)
Although MDW's core mission has remained the same, it has gained, lost and regained various installations and support responsibilities over the years. USAMDW currently has five subordinate commands to include The Army Aviation Brigade, the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” The United States Army Field Band, and the U.S. Army Transportation Agency. The USAMDW Commanding General also has senior commander responsibilities for Joint Base Myer–Henderson Hall, Fort George G. Meade, Fort Belvoir, and Fort Walker, as well as three other agencies.