NEW YORK, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- New York Gov. George Pataki assigned more than 300 New York Army and Air National Guard troops to provide additional security at airports throughout the state Monday.
More than half of the National Guard force will be deployed to John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports in New York City, the rest will be deployed to New York's 17 other airports.
"Our National Guard troops will provide a visible and consistent presence at our airports to ensure safety and boost confidence among travelers," Pataki said. "By answering the president's call, we are sending a powerful message to the business traveler and tourist alike that New York is open for business.
"New York remains the financial and cultural capital of the world, offering unparalleled opportunities for business and fun that I encourage all Americans and people from around the world to see for themselves," the governor added.
After completing two-day training sessions with the Federal Aviation Administration this week, Pataki said the troops would begin their work at New York airports by Friday. The Guard's principal missions will be to supplement airport security and law enforcement personnel at passenger checkpoints and augment existing ground security. Their mission is expected to last up to six months, as determined by federal authorities.
New York's plan is part of "Operation Noble Eagle," a federal initiative of President George W. Bush's "to provide a trained, armed military security presence at the airport facilities of the United States to reinforce the civilian security function."
Troops working as part of Operation Noble Eagle will be paid by federal funds but will operate under the authority of the governor. At the conclusion of the National Guard mission, newly trained FAA personnel will replace the troops.
"While it would be unwise, for the sake of operational security, to publicly announce specific mission details, we will be providing a level of support consistent with the size and amount of passenger traffic of each airport," said Maj. Gen. Thomas P. Maguire, Jr., the Adjutant General of New York state. "The exact type and level of support we provide will vary based on needs as expressed to us by each airport's management and the FAA."