Guard MPs will secure 6 airports
The armed troops will be trained to assist regular civilian security.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- Gov. Bob Taft hopes the call-up of as many as 104 Ohio National Guard members to help provide security at the state's major airports will help reassure fearful travelers.
"I hope the increased presence of these officers will help Ohioans feel safe to fly again," Taft said Friday.
"We have no reason to believe that we are not safe, but it is prudent to take all necessary precautions and measures during this war on terrorism."
The governor said the 838th Military Police Co., based at Christy Armory in Austintown, and the 324th MP Co. of Middletown will assist in security at six airports: Akron-Canton Regional Airport, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Dayton International Airport, Port Columbus International Airport, Toledo Express Airport and Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.
Once deployed in about a week, the soldiers will help civilian security forces, said Maj. Gen. John Smith, adjutant general of the Ohio National Guard.
"Our purpose is to assist them," Smith said.
What they'll do: Armed with 9mm handguns, the guard will man 11 security checkpoints throughout the six airports. There are to be three soldiers per checkpoint.
The troops will be trained by the Federal Aviation Administration in such things as airport security techniques and passenger and baggage screening.
The exact number to be called up from each unit wasn't immediately available.
State officials say the airport deployment could last for at least 90 days.
The federal government is paying for the call-up, but the cost wasn't immediately available.
The Ohio move is part of a request by President Bush to governors to have the National Guard augment security at the nation's airports.
The Guard members will provide a transition between current civilian security procedures and Bush's plan to put the federal government in charge of airport security and screening, including the purchase and maintenance of all equipment.
Under that plan, the government would supervise passenger and baggage security and perform background checks on security personnel. Uniformed federal workers would manage all operations; federal and nonfederal workers would share the security work.