- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2001

FORT PICKETT, Va. Gov. James S. Gilmore III said yesterday he is still worried about the possibility of more terrorist attacks occurring in the state and elsewhere in the country, but he added that state and federal officials will remain on alert to prevent further threats.
"It's clear that we have to take the battle to the enemy," Mr. Gilmore told The Washington Times in an interview aboard a Cessna S2, as he flew to the military base to meet with troops. "Otherwise they can take the battle to us anytime they want to."
The Republican governor, however, said that despite the added security measures, in place since the Sept. 11 attacks, officials can't eliminate "all risk."
"You can't guarantee that there won't be someone who will do something unexpected," Mr. Gilmore said. "This is not like what we've seen before. You cannot protect everything all the time. There aren't enough resources to do that. But we are more vigilant because we are alert to the possibility of more attacks in the future."
To be prepared, Mr. Gilmore said the country must maximize its use of intelligence forces and, through war, eliminate terrorist cells worldwide.
"This is going to be a new strategy to deal with a new threat that is very unorthodox," Mr. Gilmore said. "The president has to make war on those people who killed Americans on their soil."
For the first time as governor, Mr. Gilmore traveled here to visit with the soldiers of the Virginia Army National Guard, most of whom have spent this week preparing for deployment to nine of the state's commercial airports, including Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which is expected to reopen today.
The governor, at President Bush's request, ordered the troops to undergo three to four days of specialized training from the Federal Aviation Administration so they could bolster security at the nine airports.
An estimated 340 soldiers will begin their assignments tomorrow and will be stationed at the airports for the next four to six months or until federal authorities complete their training, the governor said. Citing security reasons, Mr. Gilmore declined to disclose whether the Guardsmen will be armed and where they will be posted at the airports.
Most of the soldiers, who volunteered for the assignment, said they were proud to serve their country in any way they could and hoped the presence of Guardsmen at airports nationwide helps travelers feel more safe.
"It's necessary for us to do this," said Staff Sgt. Kent Robinson of Hampton, Va. "We hope that us being at the airports will give the public a sense of security to go about their daily routines."
Master Sgt. Ricky Edmonds of Midlothian, Va., said the time had come to move on.
"We need to restore the faith in our airline system," he said. "Hopefully, this will rebuild people's confidence."
During his two-hour visit, Mr. Gilmore expressed confidence that the troops would do their best to keep the public safe.
"You are preparing for a new, different type of challenge for the 21st century," the governor told the troops, who packed a theater to hear his address. "You are defending our rights, our liberties and our American way of life. You are literally on the front line on the war of terrorism. I have no doubt you will succeed in this vital security mission."
After his address, Mr. Gilmore met with Maj. Gen. Claude A. Williams, who debriefed him on the troops' training. The governor then ate lunch with the troops as they shared stories about the families they left back home. One soldier talked about his wife, who is pregnant with the couple's first child.
Sgt. Greg Strier of Falls Church said he wanted to be here, to do what he had been trained to do during his 11 years with the Guard.
"I'm here because I want to make a difference," he said.
On the plane ride back to Richmond, Mr. Gilmore said he was impressed by the troops' preparedness for their mission.
"It's a good, solid military force doing what it's supposed to do," he said. "They looked fit and prepared. And the most important thing is, the morale was high. For me, coming here was the right thing to do."
Fort Pickett, about 50 miles southwest of Richmond, was built two days after the Pearl Harbor attack and houses up to 5,500 troops at a time.

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