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Oct. 2, 2001 – The V.I. National Guard was finalizing plans Monday to deploy members at the territory’s two airports to help in security duty.
The move is part of President George W. Bush’s order last week that state and territorial governors use the troops to supplement airport security. Locally, there were reports Monday that 25 National Guard members were already manning posts at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix and the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas.
But a VING spokeswoman, Staff Sgt. Karen Williams, said Monday afternoon that plans were still being drawn up concerning the deployment of Guard members. She said VING officers were creating a profile of members who would best suit the security duty, which could last up to six months.
Williams said there will first be a call for volunteers, and then assignments could be made. VING's 661st Military Police component will likely be tapped first, she said.
V.I. Police Department officials have expressed concern because many Guard members in the military police unit are also members of the police force, which already is experiencing manpower shortages.
On Friday, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull ordered Adj. Gen. Cleave McBean of the V.I. National Guard to work with the U.S. National Guard Bureau, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Port Authority and the Attorney General’s Office to prepare the deployment of troops at the two airports.
Once deployment plans are approved by the National Guard Bureau, Turnbull said, the costs will be covered by the federal government. He didn’t say how many VING troops would be involved.
Airport security was added to the National Guard’s growing list of civil support and homeland defense missions on Thursday at Bush's direction. The FAA had asked the Defense Department to coordinate the use of about 5,000 National Guard members at 422 commercial airports nationwide for the next four to six months.
According to the National Guard Bureau, the FAA will train the National Guard troops in airport security techniques.
VING is operated as a separate function within the Office of Governor, with headquarters on St. Croix. It is headed by an adjutant general appointed by the President of the United States.

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