Locals could be called up

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 3, 2003

The war on terror is coming home in more ways than one. Even as National Guard units assemble across Alabama to provide support for Operation Enduring Freedom and the potential war on Iraq, other units are being assembled to provide that same support and security here.

The 131st Armored, which encompasses unites from throughout the Wiregrass, such as Ozark, Florala, Abbeville and Ashford, are already in place as part of the Homeland Security team, helping guard such critical sites as Fort Rucker, Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, and Anniston Army Depot.

"There's a possibility that they could all be called up," said Norman Arnold, a public affairs spokesperson for the Guard in Montgomery. "That's their mission -- to be ready to go."

Other Wiregrass guardsmen sent include those from Brun-didge and Phenix City, a split unit, which will be deployed today, also for security duty.

The 160 members of the 900th Maintenance Co, will be attached to the Air Force during the next year, according to Master Sgt. Kenneth Lee, a full-time guard member.

As with the battalion from the Wiregrass, the Brundidge unit will be patrolling the grounds, and handling gate entry as part of their overall perimeter patrol. The unit will report to their mobilization station after Adjutant General Mark Bowen speaks to them in a special ceremony at the Wendell Taylor Armory. They will be on active duty for a period up to one year. They will spend two weeks at Fort Benning, Ga. before moving onto their Air Force assignment, which has not been disclosed yet.

The Brundidge unit, like the Georgiana unit, was called up to serve during Desert Storm. Arnold would not comment on the possibility of Georgiana or Andalusia units specifically being called.

The armories, which used to be open facilities, have become "gated operations" since Sept. 11, with high security and limited access.

Other units in Alabama who have been called up so far include: Detachments 1-6 167th Theater Support Command, Birmingham; 217th Military Police Company, Prattville; 20th Special Forces Group, Birmingham; 1st Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group, Huntsville; 1103rd Corps Support Battalion, Eufaula; Detachment 1, 200th Material Management Center, Homewood; 1 Battalion, 131st Armor, Ozark; Troop E 31st Cavalry, Sylacauga; Detachment 1 Company B 31st Support Battalion, Oxford; 167th Engineer Company, Demopolis;

111th Ordnance Group (EOD), Opelika; 441st Ordnance Battalion (EOD), Huntsville;

1156th Criminal Investigation Division, Montgomery; 117th Air Refueling Wing, Birmingham;

117th Intelligence Squadron, Birmingham; 187th Fighter Wing, Montgomery; 226th Combat Communications Group, Montgomery; 225th Combat Communications Squad-ron, Gadsden; 232nd Combat Communications Group, Mont-gomery; and 280th Combat Communications Squadron, Dothan.