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Extra Year For National Guard Reservists

The Air Force has notified at least 14,000 National Guard members and reservists they may be needed for a second straight year of active-duty military service for the war on terrorism, military officials said Monday.

The largest group facing an extended term are some 5,700 Air National Guard security troops who protect bases, said Kathleen Gereski, a spokeswoman for the National Guard Bureau. Some are serving at domestic bases; others have been sent overseas, she said.

An additional 3,500 Guard members and 4,800 Air Force reservists have been notified they may serve two-year terms. Airmen who work in intelligence and equipment maintenance are also seeing their terms extended, officials said.

The extensions, first reported Monday by USA Today, do not necessarily mean all 14,000 will spend another year away from home or their civilian jobs, officials said. They can be demobilized whenever the military decides they are no longer needed on active duty.

The extensions come even as the military is demobilizing thousands of others who were called up after the Sept. 11 attacks.

About 76,000 members of the Guard and reserves — including troops from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard — are on active duty as a part of the war on terrorism. The majority come from the Army and Air Force.

That figure is down from a high of more than 85,000 in early June. Since, the military has been demobilizing more than 1,000 people a week, said Lt. Col. Dan Stoneking, a Pentagon spokesman.

"We want to call up as few as possible for as short as possible," he said.

A spokesman for the Army could not provide figures on how many Army Guardsmen and reservists were being called up for a second year.

The call-ups are under what the military calls a "partial mobilization," which was ordered by President Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks. During this, the president can activate up to one million reservists and Guard members to serve up to two years.

The last partial mobilization took place during the Gulf War, but few, if any, served more than a year because the war ended so quickly, officials said. The Vietnam War saw numerous reservists serving full two-year terms.

The long terms of service, however, can burden families and employers. While employers are required to give Guard members and reservists an equivalent position and equal pay upon their return from service, they do not have to give them the same job they had when they left.

Nevertheless, employers are generally showing support for the war on terrorism, Gereski said.

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