SLUG: 2-280504 Pentagon / Reserves (L only)
TITLE= PENTAGON / RESERVES (L ONLY)
BYLINE= ALEX BELIDA
INTRO: U-S Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has asked President Bush for authority to activate thousands of reserve troops in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attacks. V-O-A Correspondent Alex Belida reports from the Pentagon.
TEXT: Pentagon officials say Mr. Rumsfeld has proposed activating between 30 and 50-thousand reservists and national guard troops. His request is now under consideration by President Bush, whose decision may be announced later in the day.
Defense officials say that if approved, the troops who are called up would be deployed in what is referred to as "homeland defense" -- that is, security duties in the United States itself. The move would free up regular, active-duty forces for other duties.
The officials caution that any such partial mobilization will not occur quickly. "It will take time" says one Pentagon spokesman.
Word of the proposed reserve call-up comes as the Pentagon considers a variety of military options for striking back against the terrorists and their supporters involved in Tuesday's attacks in New York and Washington.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says any retaliation will not be limited to a single strike but will involved a sustained and comprehensive campaign.
An estimated 190 people were killed at the Pentagon when a terrorist-commandeered airliner slammed into the building. But officials are hinting the death toll could rise to as high as 250.
Recovery efforts have been hampered by the threat of collapsing debris in the portion of the Pentagon hit by the plane.
But overnight, crews managed to recover the flight data and voice recorders from the crash site. A Pentagon source says the voice recorder is in poor condition while the flight data recorder is in good shape. The devices may shed light on the hijacking and the flight path taken by the American Airlines plane over Washington.
Fire re-erupted in the damage area overnight. But officials now say it was a deliberate burning of jet fuel still trapped in the rubble. (Signed)
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