Sept. 14, 2001 – Adj. Gen. Cleve McBean of the V.I. National Guard said Friday that none of the territory's military reservists would be mobilized immediately in response to the terrorist attacks this week in New York and Washington, D.C.
President George W. Bush has authorized Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to call as many as 50,000 National Guard and military reserve troops to active duty. U.S. military planners have assigned allotments for 35,500 of them — 13,000 from the Air Force, 10,000 from the Army, 7,500 from the Marines, 3,000 from the Navy and 2,000 from the Coast Guard.
The Virgin Islands has an Army National Guard program.
The Pentagon said the forces were being called up "to provide port operations, medical support, engineer support, general civil support and homeland defense."
The New York Times reported that about 9,000 members of the National Guard have been
called up from 31 jurisdictions, most of them from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
While talk of going to war has spread across the nation, McBean said, reservists will not be activated right away. He said military leaders are compiling lists of reserve forces as a preliminary step. "It will take quite some time to develop" operational plans, he said Friday at a press conference at Government House on St. Thomas.
Although local National Guard personnel don't know whether or when they'll be called to duty, Delores Edwards, who works in the St. Croix recruiting office, said she is ready and willing. "We need to assist with the families" who have lost loved ones, she said.
Nationally, the tragedy has spurred increased enlistment in the military. Questions about Army recruiting locally were referred to U.S. Army spokesman Harvey Spigler in Miami, who said he had no specific information about the situation in the territory. However, he said that nearly all recruiting offices have had visits from people wanting to help their country. But he said many of them are over the age limit of 35 years, and that recruiters referred such people to volunteer organizations such as the American Red Cross.
Spigler said the recruiting process takes about three weeks to a month before a recruit goes on active duty. Men in the United States must register for Selective Service at their local post office or on the Internet when they turn 18. Currently the United States does not have a draft. "It would take a congressional act to change that," Spigler said.
Friday's Government House press conference, called by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull to address the territory's response to Tuesday's terrorist attacks on the U.S. mainland, came on the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance declared by President Bush.
At the press conference, Turnbull called for a moment of silence for the thousands of people who died as a result of Tuesday's terrorist attacks. One of them was Sgt. Maudlyn White, 38, a 15-year veteran of the Army who lived on St. Thomas and St. Croix when she was not on active duty. White was in the Pentagon when terrorists flew a hijacked jetliner into the complex.
The governor said it is too early to know how much of an impact the attacks will have on the territory's tourism industry. He noted receipt on Wednesday of a letter from Gov. Frank Savage of the British Virgin Islands expressing solidarity with the U.S. Virgin Islands and the United States. "The attack on America was not only an attack on America, but an attack on civilization," Turnbull said. He concluded the press conference by leading the singing of "God Bless America."


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