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Alabama Activates Tank Unit
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
July 18, 2002

A day after President Bush's release of a homeland defense strategy calling for the possible domestic use of U.S. military forces, Alabama activated a 300-soldier Army National Guard tank battalion as part of a homeland defense force.

In a statement released Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman said the Ozark, Ala.-based 1st Battalion, 131st Armor "is equipped with modern battle tanks, the M1A1 Abrams" and "will serve in the homeland defense role within the United States."

Siegelman, commander-in-chief of the state's national guard, did not say what role the tank battalion would serve in homeland defense.

In addition to the tank battalion, 200 guardsmen from Special Forces units based in Auburn and Huntsville were activated and "will conduct post-mobilization training and then deploy to undisclosed locations in support of the war on terrorism," Siegelman said.

Siegelman's office forwarded questions about Wednesday's activation to the Alabama National Guard.

Asked if the armored battalion was deploying with its tanks and, if so, what role they would play in a domestic role, Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Horton said: "That can't be discussed. It all will depend on the mission."

Though he said he could not provide specifics, Horton said the activation was not linked to Bush's quest for use of U.S. military forces on the home front.

The deployment will last one to two years, Horton said.



Copyright 2002 Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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