National Guard will phase in security at airports over three weeks

By Don Thompson Associated Press Writer
Wednesday October 03, 2001

SACRAMENTO — It will take three weeks for the National Guard to phase in increased security measures at all 30 California commercial airports, officials said Tuesday. 

Troops wearing camouflage fatigues and carrying M-16 assault rifles will back up airport security officers and local police beginning Friday at Los Angeles and San Francisco international airports. 

It will be another week before they take their posts at nine other airports designated as a second priority by the Federal Aviation Administration. The 19 remaining airports won’t have the extra guards until Oct. 19, Gov. Gray Davis said. 

On Monday, Davis said troops would begin fanning out to airports beyond Los Angeles and San Francisco over the weekend. But the governor and national guard spokesmen said Tuesday it will take longer to get the troops trained. 

The initial round of Federal Aviation Administration training will begin Wednesday for the more than 100 guard members who will patrol Los Angeles International and the 75-80 troops needed at San Francisco. Troops will receive 16 hours of training over two days. 

The second round will go to airports in Sacramento, San Diego, Oakland, Orange County, San Jose, Ontario, Burbank, Long Beach and Fresno. 

The third batch will go to the remaining airports: Palm Springs, Oxnard, Indian Wells, Crescent City, Arcata-Eureka, Redding, Chico, Santa Rosa, Monterey, Stockton, Modesto, San Luis Obispo, Merced, Visalia, Santa Maria, Bakersfield, Santa Barbara, Carlsbad and Imperial. 

California has asked the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C., to initially pay for deploying 730 troops at the state’s airports, but that could change as needed, said Adjutant General Paul Monroe Jr. 

The National Guard will back up airport security officials at passenger checkpoints for four to six months, until the federal government can take over airport security. 

Davis said he believes the troops’ conspicuous presence will help ease travelers’ fears, not aggravate them, in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks involving California-bound commercial airliners. 

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has called up 493 additional California National Guard and Reserve members, officials said Tuesday. 

They include 13 members of the 940th Security Forces Squadron, Air Force Reserve, Marysville; 70 members of the Headquarters Detail, 49th Military Police Battalion, Army National Guard, Pittsburg; 167 members of the 870th Military Police Company, Army National Guard, Pittsburg; 167 members of the 270th Military Police Company, Army National Guard, Placerville; and 76 members of the 452nd Security Forces Squadron, Air Force Reserve, Riverside. 

About 1,414 Army reservists and Army National Guard members from 13 units in seven states, and about 619 more Air Force reservists from 12 major units in 10 states, were called to active duty under the latest mobilization. 

Also Tuesday, Davis’ office announced a California day of remembrance commemorating victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

Among those expected to attend a noon service next Tuesday on the Capitol’s west steps are relatives of Californians who died in the four planes originally bound for Los Angeles and San Francisco. Others include firefighters, police officers and labor union members.