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New York National Guard Plans to Keep Remaining Armories Open

By Mark Scott

Albany, NY – The New York National Guard is planning to keep all its armories open and is hoping the federal government will do the same with the state's five air bases.

Over the past two years, five armories, including one in Tonawanda, were closed and a sixth one will soon close in Rochester. But the State Division of Military and Naval Affairs says there are no plans for any further reductions.

The armories house guard personnel who are military part-timers. They train on weekends and two weeks a summer, and get called up for state service in storms or other emergencies or to federal duty in both combat and support units.

Even with the war in Iraq, Division spokesman Scott Sandman says the guard is close to its recruiting goals.

"Our recruiters are working very hard," Sandman said. "There is still a very large segment of the population who feels that call to duty and the need to make a difference. One of the best way to make a difference is to join the National Guard and be an intricate part of both homeland security operations and the nation's military objectives overseas."

While state-owned armories are safe, the US Defense Department is looking to trim its excess military capacity. As part of its Base Realignment and Closure process, known as "BRAC," five bases in New York, including the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Base, are under scrutiny. But state officials say indications so far are that none of the New York bases will be closed.