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National Guard Deployed at US Airports - 2001-10-05

The National Guard has expanded its patrols at U.S. airports, where the troops will help with security. National Guardsmen have taken up their posts in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

President Bush has asked the nation's governors to deploy up to 5,000 National Guard troops at 420 U.S. airports. The part-time citizen-soldiers will help with security as an interim measure, until heightened federal safety procedures are implemented.

Friday, 120 National Guardsmen carrying automatic rifles began work at Los Angeles International Airport. California governor Gray Davis noted the National Guard has helped with other emergencies, including riots in Los Angeles nine years ago.

"They are citizen soldiers," Governor Davis explained. "They've been called on the past, be it earthquakes or other forms of natural disaster. They were there in the riots in 1992. And they'll be here now that I have called them up at the request of the president of the United States."

National Guard troops have also been deployed at Logan Airport in Boston and at the Newark, New Jersey, airport, from which terrorists departed before hijacking aircraft that they used in terror attacks. More National Guard deployments will take place at other major airports in coming days.

Federal aviation officials have trained the National Guard troops in security procedures and conflict resolution. Jackie Aslip of the California National Guard says she hopes to boost the confidence of travelers.

"We're there to beef up the security and give them a feeling of safety, and I'm hoping that's exactly what they feel. We're there for them, to protect them," she said.

One Los Angeles passenger said she felt a little bit safer Friday.

"I think the more security we get in place, the better it's going to be for all passengers," she said. "So I'm really glad they're here."

National Guard patrols are expected to begin Saturday at Reagan National Airport near Washington, and also at Washington Dulles, a third departure point for the terrorist attacks September 11.