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NEWS | Aug. 11, 2006

Guard called to airports to augment security after U.K. terrorist plot foiled

By Compiled from reports

ARLINGTON, Va. - In the wake of an Aug. 10 announcement by British authorities that they arrested several people involved in a plot to blow up commercial airliners, the governors of three states activated Guardsmen to augment security at several airports across the country.

The governors of Massachusetts, California and New York had called up troops to help secure several airports in respective states in support of local law enforcement agencies.

Others governors, including Alaska’s, had alerted their Guard forces to be ready to assist.

This came as U.S. Department of Homeland Security raised the terror level for flights from Great Britain to red (severe).

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney called Guardmembers up to state active duty to assist at Logan International Airport. They were to support the State Police, the Transportation Security Administration, Massport (Massachusetts Port Authority) and other state public safety personnel. All forces involved in the security augmentation mission were to receive training from the TSA and Massport.

“I appreciate your honor and integrity … willingness to respond so quickly to the emergency that we face." said Governor Romney to about 50 members of the 972nd Military Police Company deployed to Logan to man new security checkpoints.

“This kind of rapid and robust support for public safety agencies is at the heart of the National Guard’s capabilities, experience and citizen-soldier heritage.” said Brig. Gen. Oliver J. Mason, the adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard.

National Guard Joint Force Headquarters in California had received authorization from the governor to utilize Soldiers in state active duty to support TSA security.

New York had received the governor’s authorization to mobilize an additional 75 Soldiers to supplement critical infrastructure security that was already in place.

“We have offered the mayor, New York City law enforcement and the Port Authority any additional assistance they might need to further support and bolster their security efforts including offering to increase National Guard presence at our two airports,” said Governor George Pataki in a statement Aug. 10.

These call-ups came as all domestic flights in the United States were under orange alert, the Department of Homeland Security’s second highest security ranking. DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said the British plot involved the use of liquid explosives that could be carried on board aircraft disguised as beverages, electronic devices and other common objects.

It’s not the first time the National Guard has been called up to help secure airports. After the 9/11 attacks, 52 states and territories activated over 7,000 Guardsmen for similar missions in 442 airports across the country.