Monday, October 08, 2001

Guard units poised for action




By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        No Ohio or Kentucky National Guard or reserve unit was directly involved in Sunday's air strikes against Afghanistan, but some could find themselves in the middle of the next U.S. military action.

        In the weeks since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, 1,304 Ohio Army and Air National guardsmen have received orders to mobilize, along with hundreds more from the Kentucky Army and Air National Guard.

        Nearly 140 Ohio and Kentucky guardsmen have been on security duty since Friday at commercial airports, in response to President Bush's call to governors for Guard assistance.

        The rest are still waiting for what the military calls “tasking” — the actual mission they will perform.

        The bulk of the Ohio guardsmen on airport duty come from the 324th Military Police Company in Middletown and the 838th Military Police Company in Youngstown. The 35 Kentucky guardsmen on airport duty were drawn from units all over the state.

        Guardsmen from mobilized units will eventually fan out to Army and air bases around the country. Some will be heading to Fort Bragg and Fort Knox this week.

        Those units, Army and Air Force officials say, could end up going overseas or become part of the military's homeland defense operation.

        Four companies of the Ohio National Guard's 1-148th Infantry — about 420 men and women — mobilized Saturday and went to Fort Knox, Ky. The 1-147th Armor Battalion from Cincinnati, an Ohio guard unit, will be deployed for airport security duty. Another 110 Kentucky guardsmen from the 1-149th Infantry, based in Middlesboro, will also report to Fort Knox.

        Last Tuesday, the Army called up 334 Ohio guardsmen from two military police units in suburban Cleveland and Toledo. They are to mobilize today and report soon to Fort Bragg.

        Also going to Fort Bragg will be another company of the Kentucky National Guard's 1-149th Infantry.

        Many of the first units called to active duty were Air National Guard units.

        On Sept. 22, 424 members of the 121st Air Refueling Wing, based at Rickenbacker Airport near Columbus, were called to duty. Three days later, 20 airmen of the 251st Combat Communications Squadron in Springfield got the call.

        The 121st operates tanker aircraft that refuel bombers and fighter planes in flight. The 251st coordinates communications between fighter and bomber squadrons.

        An Ohio Air National Guard unit based at the Blue Ash Air Station — the 130-member 123rd Air Control Squadron, which provides radar control for air combat — has been on what its command er calls a “heightened state of alert” since the Sept. 11 attacks, but has yet to be activated.

        One Kentucky Air National Guard unit has been mobilized. Last week, the Secretary of the Air Force ordered mobilization for 44 members of the 123rd Security Forces Squadron based in Louisville. One group of Air Force Reservists in Ohio has been called to active duty — 211 men and women who reported to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton about two weeks ago.

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