- Military heightens security around Alaska 09/11/01

Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Military heightens security around AlaskaBy RACHEL D'OROAssociated Press Writer ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Military bases in Alaska, as all others across the nation, switched to high-security mode Tuesday in response to terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Officials were tightlipped about what measures they were implementing, releasing only general details.

''If we say what's going on, that could let the enemy know what's going on,'' said Major Johnn Kennedy, chief of public affairs for the Air Force's 3rd Wing fighter group at Elmendorf Air Force base. ''This is the national posture because of the attacks.''

Elmendorf closed two of its four gates, letting in only federal employees and their families, Kennedy said. Traffic entering through the Government Hill gate was backed up about a mile as base security officers carefully checked identifications of those entering.

Fort Richardson also restricted access to the Army base, closing the Arctic Valley gate and checking identifications at the main gate. Army Spokesman Chuck Canterbury said traffic on the Glenn Highway near the post was extremely slow.

''It took me two hours to get there from Eagle River, and I drove the shoulder,'' Canterbury said.

About 2,000 soldiers are based at Fort Richardson, about twice that number are based at Fort Wainwright, Canterbury said.

The Coast Guard said it also was operating under a higher ''security awareness.'' But Petty Officer Chris Grisafe said the Coast Guard will respond as usual to any emergencies, including all rescue calls.

Petty Officer Chris Grisafe said the Coast Guard's Alaska fleet of about 20 aircraft was ready for immediate use. Coast Guard officials also were continuing to monitor VHF lines for any distress signals,

''Our response condition has not changed,'' Grisafe said. ''We're just as prepared to respond today as were yesterday, and we'll be just as prepared tomorrow.''

All Contents ?Copyright 2001, The Peninsula Clarion and Morris Digital Works.

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