1,500 Guardsmen deployed; reserves remain adequate

by Justin Ware

The Minnesota National Guard’s reserves are well stocked and prepared to defend the nation despite the deployment of nearly 1,500 troops statewide.

Guard troops are monitoring safety at three Twin Cities airports and are replacing striking workers at state agencies throughout Minnesota.

After Sunday’s U.S. and British military action, authorities put increased emphasis on defending Americans against future terrorist attacks.

“We’re already a part of (the homeland defense),” said Lt. Col. Denny Shields, Minnesota National Guard spokesman.

Shields said the majority of deployed troops are replacing striking workers, as roughly 950 troops are working at 115 hospitals and veteran medical facilities.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission received about 130 troops to support its security officers.

“We’re not spread thin,” Shields said, “There are over 12,000 (Guard members) across the state. We still have a pretty significant number.”

University students who are members of the Guard said they do not think their battalions will see action in the near future.

“The units in Minnesota will more than likely not be deployed anytime soon,” said MS-4 Brian Douty, a University senior.

Douty is a member of the Guard’s 125th FA “A” Battery and also a member of the University’s Army ROTC.

University senior, MS-4 Jason Murphy, also in the ROTC and a member of the 125th, said the Army places academics ahead of service for ROTC students.

“As long as you’re in ROTC, you will not be called to duty,” Murphy said.

Douty said he was unsure if his unit would be called to active duty, but that it was unlikely. One of his non-commissioned officers told him it would take an all-out war to deploy the 125th FA “A” Battery.

Shields said the Guard has no formal method of keeping students out of service, but members can volunteer to go in the place of those who have other obligations.

“We try to do it with volunteers,” he said. “Whenever we can, we try to accommodate individual needs.”

Shields said exceptions have been made in the past for job and student situations.

Shields said it is hard to tell if and how many more troops will be needed in the future, but if the strikes continue, he said the Guard might have to order more troops from Minnesota’s ranks.

Aside from the state-activated Guard members, the federal government ordered about 300 members of the 148th Fighter Division in Duluth to patrol U.S. skies if needed.

The 148th operates F-15 and F-16 fighter aircraft.

“(The 148th) is responsible for making sure the skies are safe,” Shields said.

 

Justin Ware welcomes comments at [email protected]