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Missouri National Guard to be Used for Airport Security

September 27, 2001
By: Nicholas Rummell
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Armed members of Missouri's National Guard may be inspecting luggage at Missouri airports with commercial flights, according to state officials.

In response to the president's request, Missouri's governor stated that within the next 10 days an unknown number of National Guardsmen may be called on for the purpose of airport security, although it is too early to estimate on how many.

In a national address on airport security Thursday, President Bush stated that 4,000 members of the National Guard will be called up and federally funded to inspect luggage in the nation's 420 commercial airports.

Gov. Holden reaffirmed that Missouri airports are safe, and refrained from speculating on how many guardsmen may be mobilized, stating that he had to hear back from the president before deciding on any specifics.

"The president is still working through a lot of these details," he said.

Holden stated that he expected such an action from the president and had actually planned to call on the National Guard before the president's address.

"The president is acting in a prudent fashion," Holden said. "We need to be prepared for the future."

Missouri National Guard spokesman Lt. Tammy Spicer said that it may be a week before any Guardsmen are called and no exact numbers are known yet, but the Guard will be armed.

However, the weapons that the guardsmen will be armed with will depend on the unit used, said Spicer. Each unit of the National Guard is armed differently.

Spicer also said that guardsmen called will be trained by the Federal Aviation Administration in the safe handling of deadly materials, courteous and efficient screening processes, and conflict resolution in airports.

According to Spicer, the Guard will report directly to the state, and not to federal authorities, although guardsmen will be working with members of the FAA.

Airport security is the first defined mission for the National Guard right now, but there may be extended duties later on, said Spicer.

The manager of Columbia Regional Airport, Bill Boston, said he received no word of the National Guard being called up for this purpose.

"I haven't been contacted," he said.