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Homeland Security

New York National Guard Participates in Security Mission on Anniversary of Bin Laden Death

May 2, 2012

By Capt. Alvin Phillips, New York Army National Guard

NEW YORK CITY--Members of the New York National Guard's full-time security force in New York City completed their 100th Multi-Agency Super Surge operation at Pennsylvania Station here on May 2 as New York City went on security alert on the anniversary of the death of Osama Bin Laden.

The New York Army and Air National Guardsmen who comprise Joint Task Force Empire Shield and augment law enforcement agencies at transportation hubs and other key locations in the city were part of the effort to dissuade any potential attackers.

The Multi-Agency Super Surge, known as a MASS, involves the New York Police Department, the Port Authority Police Department, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police, New Jersey Transit Police, Amtrak Police and the Department of Homeland Security working together to flood a potential target with alert eyes.

The goal is to detect, deter, disrupt and defeat potential terrorists operations.

"This is a significant milestone for the task force as we participate in the 100th Multi-Agency Super Surge. It is great that we can host our agency partners as we work in a unified effort to deter terrorism," said New York Army National Guard Lt. Col Peter Riley, the Joint Task Force Empire Shield commander.

The MASS is designed to enhance, and refine multi-agency coordination and communication in the event of a terrorist attack, terrorist threat or disaster here in New York City, Riley said.

Although, there was no credible information that terrorist organizations, including al-Qa'ida, are plotting attacks in the United States to coincide with the May 2 one year anniversary, there is still a danger that that al-Qa'ida affiliates and allies remain intent on conducting attacks in the United States, possibly to avenge the death of bin laden, Riley explained.

The primary focus of this MASS was Pennsylvania Station, Grand Central Terminal and Herald Square/33rd St Station. While there were several portions of the exercise conducted during the peak of morning travel for over a million transit commuters, there were no interruptions to local services.

Multiple National Guard assets, to include a command post housed in a DRASH (Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter )tent, new Signal radio devices and an additional company of National Guard Soldiers and Airmen were employed during the MASS.

"It is quite easy to be visible or vigilant on days like this with a MASS on the anniversary of bin Laden's death but our challenge is and must be the day to day visibility and vigilance," said Michael Coan, Chief of Department of the Metropolitan Transit Authority Police.

"The most interesting thing is to see how all agency partners come together and share information. Sure the 100th Anniversary is a great number but 200 and 1000 is better, so we continue to work," said New York Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Victor Valerio, one of the longest serving task force members .

We get better at our job every day and "exercises like the MASS shows great collaboration of agency partners with one shared goal, to protect this city, the capital of the world," said New York Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Johnny Noguera.

"This is why I love my job," he added.

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