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Nevada National Guard keeps watch over New Year’s Eve celebrations

By Sgt. Walter Lowell | 106th Public Affairs Detachment | Dec. 31, 2017

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - With New Year’s Eve only hours away, Nevada National Guard Soldiers and Airmen made their final preparations for the largest domestic mobilization operation in Nevada Guard history here in Nevada’s largest city – the host of one of the nation’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebrations.

America's Party is the free New Year's Eve event held on the Las Vegas Strip put together by Las Vegas Events and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The mission to keep Las Vegas safe and secure during New Year’s has been deemed Operation Silver Phalanx by the Nevada Guard and it includes about 360 Soldiers and Airmen on state active duty orders. It is a joint operation overseen by the Nevada Department of Emergency Management and prominently features the Nevada Guard and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Officials stressed there is no specific, credible threat to the Las Vegas Strip or downtown Las Vegas or any other site in southern Nevada. The Guardsmen will supplement first responders in the event of any contingency during the New Year’s celebration that annually draws hundreds of thousands of attendees.

With the October Route 91 Harvest country music festival shooting prominent in the minds of Nevadans, Gov. Brian Sandoval requested the Nevada Guard deploy several hundred Soldiers and Airmen to support Metro policemen and other agencies and ensure security in downtown Las Vegas and on The Strip as well as at McCarran International Airport and other various visible locations around Sin City and the Silver State.

“Everyone wants to come to Las Vegas to have a good time,” said Brig. Gen. William Burks, the Nevada Guard’s Adjutant General. “Our mission is for our Nevada Guardsmen to keep Nevadans safe. Everyone who comes to visit Nevada is a Nevadan for a day, so we are going to keep them safe.”

According to Las Vegas officials, an estimated 330,000 people will descend upon Las Vegas this weekend to ring in the New Year.

Beginning Dec. 29, visitors flying into McCarran International Airport began seeing Guardsmen patrol the concourse alongside Metro police officers.

Kathy Taylor, of Henderson, Nevada, was at the airport to pick up a friend and noted the increase in police and the armed National Guardsmen.

“It’s good to see,” Taylor said. “Especially knowing they are around for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.”

“In Vegas, we get people arriving from all over the world,” Taylor said. “It’s good to see local people are protecting us. They know the area, they know the people and that makes me happy.”

Nevada Guard security support during the New Year’s holiday has been a familiar sight in Las Vegas for many years. The Nevada Guard has conducted exercises and operations with southern Nevada law enforcement agencies for more than a decade at New Year’s.

“We are very familiar with this mission. We have done this mission in various forms for more than ten years,” Burks said. “My advice to all is just to have a good time and keep it safe.”