Expanded National Guard airport duties OK'd
By Beth Lewandowski
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- National Guard troops may take on additional security duties at the nation's airports, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta told governors in a recent letter.
Among the new functions Mineta said Guardsmen may perform are patrolling of airport perimeters and parking garages and manning employee and passenger identification checkpoints.
President Bush previously authorized federal funding for the deployment of National Guard troops to airports only to provide security at passenger screening checkpoints.
Mineta was responding to a request by governors to be allowed to expand the National Guard's duties.
"We agree the governors should have this additional flexibility and may use it to determine how National Guard personnel can best be used to support the President's request and individual needs," he wrote.
But Mineta said the government would not authorize additional funds to pay for the increased use of National Guard troops beyond the $150 million already authorized.
Approximately 6,000 National Guard troops are performing security duties at airports, according to a Department of Defense official.
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