National Guard Troops Confident In Security Role

Tennessee Army National Guard troops are confident in their new mission of providing security for airport check-ins and state facilities.
   "Our soldiers are trained in force protection and security measures," stated Randy Harris, Director of Public Affairs for the Guard. "It's a variation of our normal war-fighting mission, where providing security for our tactical and logistical locations is one of the first missions we do."
   Army National Guard personnel have been in six of the state's airports that handle commercial passengers since Sept. 29. It is a vastly different mission from what most Guard members thought they would be doing.
   "Hopefully, our presence makes people traveling to and through Tennessee a little more at ease," stated a young National Guard sergeant at the Nashville International Airport.
   "The reaction to our presence here has been very positive. Travelers give us a "thumbs-up," or thank us for being here. Sometimes, it's just a smile and a look of relief. That lets us know that what we are doing is worthwhile, and that people appreciate it."
   Guard soldiers are also patrolling the State Capitol grounds and the surrounding state facilities, augmenting the Capitol Police and Tennessee Highway Patrol.
   "It is unusual to see soldiers armed with M-16 rifles patrolling our Capitol grounds, but the events of Sept. 11 changed the way we live as Americans," Harris said.
   "Tennessee Army and Air Guard soldiers and airmen have put their personal lives on hold to answer the call of their state and nation. But that Volunteer spirit has been a Tennessee tradition since the Mexican War, " Harris said.