OLYMPIA, Wash. – Gov. Gary Locke will probably call up National Guard units to help protect Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and possibly more of the state’s airfields, his spokeswoman said Thursday.
President Bush suggested the move to the nation’s governors as a stopgap while the federal government puts together a long-term plan to safeguard airports against terrorism.
“What we wanted assurance on was that the federal government would be picking up the tab for this and they are,” said Dana Middleton, Locke’s press secretary.
Middleton said the call-up would be gradual, taking about four to six months. The number of guardsmen to be called up is not known, because state officials aren’t sure how many airports they would be protecting. Besides Sea-Tac, several other cities in Washington have commercial airports, including Spokane, Yakima, Wenatchee, Bellingham and the Tri-Cities.
“The National Guardsmen would augment the security the airports already have in place,” Middleton said. “The guardsmen would be trained by the FAA in everything from baggage screening to how to handle hazardous materials.”
Middleton cautioned that the state isn’t reacting to a specific new threat.
“We want to make sure that security is the best that it can be at each airport so the public feels comfortable to travel,” she said.
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