Saturday, September 29, 2001

Ohio guardsmen plan for airport duty


Kentucky still deciding who'll go to CVG

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Passengers at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport won't be seeing Kentucky National Guardsmen patrolling the concourses until at least late next week.

        In the meantime, the Ohio National Guard will be preparing as many as 104 guardsmen from two military police companies — one in Middletown — for security duty at commercial airports in Ohio.

        President Bush asked Thursday that the nation's 50 governors call guardsmen for security duty in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorism.

        As of Friday afternoon, Ohio had a plan and Kentucky officials were working on one.

        “We're trying to assess the needs of the airports in the state,” said Dave Alton, a spokesman for the Kentucky National Guard.

        Ted Bushelman, spokesman for the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport, said airport officials “won't discuss security issues. We're not going to let anything leak out.”

        Kentucky guardsmen would be assigned to the Cincinnati airport, as well as commercial airports in Louisville and Lexington.

        Kentucky Adjutant General D. Allen Youngman, appointed to head Kentucky's National Guard last month, will give Gov. Paul Patton a plan for deploying guardsmen by “about the middle of next week,” Mr. Alton said.

        Then, it would take several days for the guardsmen to mobilize and likely receive training from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in security before being sent around the state.

        Ohio Gov. Bob Taft said he expects the Ohio guardsmen to be deployed to airports in Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Akron-Canton, Toledo and Youngstown-Warren within 10 days.

        The Ohio National Guard members will wear civilian-style uniforms and carry 9mm pistols, the governor said.

        They will come from two units — the 838th Military Police Company in Youngstown and the 324th Military Police Company in Middletown.

        Thursday, the Taft administration was talking about activating 50 to 60 guardsmen for airport duty, but Mr. Taft said Friday the U.S. Department of Transportation had asked the state to call to duty up to 104 members.

        Kentucky National Guard officials are not yet sure how many guardsmen will be needed.

        The Kentucky National Guard has a military police battalion headquartered in Louisville that has companies there and in Murray, in far western Kentucky.

        The Louisville-based company, 223rd Military Police, probably won't be called, Mr. Alton said, because the 167-member company just returned 13 days ago from a deployment to Bosnia as part of the U.S. peacekeeping force.

        “We want them to be able to rest and spend time with their families,” Mr. Alton said.

        Federal and state officials are hoping that the presence of National Guard troops — even in relatively small numbers — will help ease air passengers' concerns about flying since the Sept. 11 hijackings.

        Jerry Ruyan, chief executive officer of Redwood Ventures Inc. of Montgomery, describes himself as someone who “lives in the air” because of his job.

        The presence of the National Guard in the Cincinnati airport, Mr. Ruyan said, won't make much difference to him.

        “I think it's just going to be a waste of resources and money,” Mr. Ruyan said.

        “Of course, we have to be in a period of heightened awareness, but I hope we don't go overboard and make being in an airport such an unpleasant experience that people will never come back,” Mr. Ruyan said.

        “If we are going to have more security, what I would like to see is a professionally trained and well-compensated federal force of people who know airline security,” Mr. Ruyan said. “I don't think the Guard is going to provide that.”

       



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