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As New Yorkers and visitors gear up for New Year's Eve celebrations, the citizen-Soldiers of the New York National Guard remain on duty in support of homeland security missions across the state.
At the direction of New York Gov. David Paterson, members of the New York Army and Air National Guard will conduct additional security missions and stand ready to respond to local civil authorities if an emergency occurs.
Throughout New York City, National Guard Soldiers and Airmen will conduct security operations at Penn Station, the PATH terminal, and LaGuardia and JFK airports in coordination with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The airport security measures directed by Paterson earlier this week were the result of the failed terrorist bombing on Christmas Day of a commercial airliner in Detroit.
"Our actions should not raise the alarm, but rather demonstrate that we are working at the local, state and federal levels to keep travelers safe," Paterson said in a statement Dec. 28.
The National Guard's 2nd Civil Support Team, a full-time rapid response element that detects chemical, biological or radiological hazards, will also provide a detachment in Manhattan to support the New York Police Department. The 22-man detachment, based at the Scotia Air National Guard Base near Schenectady, N.Y., has been partnered with the NYPD for counter-terrorism support operations since the unit's formation in 2000.
It is estimated that a million people will celebrate New Years' in Times Square. The New York Police Department will control all access points to Times Square as part of the evening's security plans. No bags or backpacks are permitted. Emergency Service squads, drug and bomb-sniffing canine units and other counter-terrorism personnel will be present in Times Square on New Year's Eve.
At the New York National Guard headquarters in Latham, N.Y., staff representatives from New York State military forces will man the National Guard's Joint Operations Center. This command and control node provides liaison and linkage to the State Emergency Management Office and New York State Department of Homeland Security.
"We will be monitoring Joint Task Force Empire Shield and the 2nd Civil Support Team," Maj. Robert Stabb, director of the New York National Guard Joint Operations Center, explained. "Empire Shield and the 2nd CST both are ready to assist the city of New York as required," he said.
The New York National Guard will also provide liaison officers to the New York City Police Department in preparation for the New Year's celebration.