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Oklahoma National Guard to begin airport duty Friday

Updated:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Answering a call from President Bush, Oklahoma National Guard troops will help provide security at airports in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Lawton, Enid and Ponca City starting Friday.

Bush asked governors to activate National Guard units to protect U.S. airports, and Gov. Frank Keating did so last week in an attempt to give travelers reassurance in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.

National Guard Lt. Col. Pat Scully said a total of 55 soldiers from the 45th Infantry Brigade and the 45th Field Artillery Brigade will be assigned to the airports.

``We'll be assisting the Federal Aviation Administration and airport authorities in performing, or augmenting the security operations in place now,'' he said.

Scully said the soldiers, dressed in camouflage fatigues and armed with 9 mm sidearms, may help out at security checkpoints and may be used in roving patrols.

``We will be trying to assist airport security, but we don't want to overstate our military presence,'' he said. ``That's one of reason for using sidearms as opposed to M-16s.''

Bush called for the troops to protect U.S. airports as a first step to putting the federal government in charge of airline security. Bush has also pledged $500 million to upgrade security features on airplanes.
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