Monday, September 17, 2001

Tristate reservists waiting for call

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Only a handful of military reservists and National Guard members from the Tristate have been called to duty so far, but thousands of others await activation.

        For some, the call might never come.

        “Reservists usually have a pretty good sense of where they fit in the order of people who are called up,” said lawyer Tim Riker of Pleasant Ridge, a retired Coast Guard Reserve rear admiral who has been called to active duty twice for American military actions.

        “Some know they are going to be sitting on the bench,” Mr. Riker said.

        Initially, the military services are calling up 35,500 reserve troops — 13,000 from the Air Force, 10,000 Army, 7,500 Marines, 3,000 Navy and 2,000 Coast Guard.

        They have authorization to activate 50,000 reservists nationwide for Operation Noble Eagle, the U.S. military response to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that President Bush called a declaration of war on the United States.

        It is a relatively small number compared with the 265,000 National Guardsmen and military reservists who were activated during the Persian Gulf War 10 years ago.

        But, with nearly 30,000 military reservists and 15,000 Army and Air National Guardsmen in Ohio, it is likely that many will be called — especially if OperationNoble Eagle turns into the sustained war against international terrorism that Mr. Bush has promised.

        Ohio has 57 Army Reserve units in 30 cities and towns, including Cincinnati, Sharonville and Kings Mills.

        With dozens of military reserve units stationed in Kentucky and Indiana, and National Guard forces in both states that number in the thousands, Ohio's neighboring states also will have men and women answering the call.

        Capt. Michael Stella, public affairs officer for the 88th Regional Support Command at Fort Snelling, Minn., the command center for Army reserve units in Ohio and Indiana, said Sunday that no units under the 88th's command had been called to active duty.

        National Guard officials in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana reported Sunday that none of their units had been called up either.

        On Saturday, Denny Clark, a Cincinnati district fire chief and Coast Guard reservist, was called to report to New Orleans, as were some other Coast Guard reservists in the Ohio River Valley.

        With some exceptions, military reservists are likely to go first, before members of state National Guard units.

        Individuals can sign up to serve in military reserve units only or reservists may be former active-duty soldiers filling out their military commitments as “weekend warriors,” reporting for duty one weekend a month if they are paid and less frequently if they are not.

        Members of the National Guard, on the other hand, may or may not have been active-duty members of one of the armed forces' branches.

        The National Guard is a volunteer force organized by each state government that has two functions — responding to natural disasters and civil unrest at the governor's orders and serving as part of the federal military.

        Whether a particular unit goes depends on its function and the nature of the military action the United States takes.


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