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Afghanistan mission eyed for Queens reserve troops

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About 117 military reservists from Queens have begun training for possible mobilization to Afghanistan and to bolster homeland security, U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) said Monday.

100 National Guardsmen from Jamaica’s first battalion, 258th field artillery forward were being prepared to participate in Operation Enduring Freedom, the country’s military effort in Afghanistan, and Operation Noble Eagle, the ongoing war on terrorism at home, Ackerman said.

Another 17 reservists from Bayside’s Fort Totten, the 361st public affairs detachment, were also getting ready to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom as well, the congressman said. The Totten reservists, Ackerman said, would be sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where al-Qaida and Taliban prisoners are being held by the U.S.

In October 2001 three members of Fort Totten’s 311 Military History Unit were sent to Ground Zero to chronicle the destruction wrought by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as well as the city’s recovery.

“We are proud of all of our reservists as our nation continues to fight against terrorism,” Ackerman said.

It was not clear whether the Queens reservists would actually be called into service, but Ackerman said if mobilized they would be active at least through the fall.

The Jamaica National Guardsmen have a tougher assignment than the Bayside reservists, who have to supply the press and public with information about the Army’s activities there, Ackerman said.

National Guardsmen were expected to provide extra security at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, protecting the “critical areas” of the school as well as its personnel. It was not clear which “critical areas” they would guard.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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