Wednesday, November 25, 2015         


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Hundreds of Guard troops called to duty

By William Cole


While it may not have been fully apparent, a "sizeable portion" of the Hawaii National Guard's 5,500 troops were mobilized for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, a Guard spokesman said Sunday.

Lt. Col. Chuck Anthony said the call-up is "nowhere near that (5,500) total number, but it's a pretty big portion of the total Army and Air Guard."

The number of National Guard soldiers and airmen who helped provide security or were on standby wasn't being released Sunday as APEC started to wind down, but Anthony said the information might be provided at a later date.

Anthony did say the number surpassed Hawaii National Guard call-ups during the ministerial meeting of the Asian Development Bank in Honolulu in May 2001, and the mobilizations following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The cost of the Guard's APEC-related activities will be released at a later date, he said.

Humvees parked on closed-off streets, including a portion of Kapiolani Boulevard, were an unusual — if not jarring — sight as APEC got into full swing, stretching from Waikiki to Ko Olina.

Vanessa Chong, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, said the ACLU "is glad that, overall, public officials and law enforcement fulfilled their oath to uphold the First Amendment."

"Hawaii may well be the only state hosting an international conference of APEC's stature where not a single lawful protester was arrested," Chong said Sunday.

Soldiers and airmen with the Hawaii Army and Air National Guard were put on duty as part of APEC's designation as a National Special Security Event.

When an event is given that designation by the secretary of homeland security, the U.S. Secret Service creates a security plan that includes law enforcement and public safety at the local, state and federal levels. The goal is to prevent terrorist and criminal acts.

Anthony said a contingent of National Guard soldiers "was in the background who are available to respond to a number of different contingencies."

Anthony would not say where those soldiers were situated, but the National Guard said last week that Diamond Head Crater would be closed to the public Friday through 6 a.m. today for APEC training and equipment staging.

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