Hotshot guard beef up security

HOT-SHOT security guards from the US Air Force are being drafted in to patrol American air bases in Suffolk as tensions rise over a possible war in Iraq.

HOT-SHOT security guards from the US Air Force are being drafted in to patrol American air bases in Suffolk as tensions rise over a possible war in Iraq.

Nearly 200 armed members of the force's security police will be deployed at RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall by the end of March in a bid to provide added protection for the bases.

The security guards are being flown over from air bases in America, where it is commonplace for signs to be displayed that state: "The use of military force is authorised".

Technical Sergeant Claudette Hutchinson, who is based at RAF Lakenheath, said it was unlikely similar warnings would be displayed outside bases in this country but said it is impossible to predict how the officers would react to an alert.

"They would make every effort to resolve the situation as peacefully and safely as possible but it depends on the situation really. They is no way I can anticipate what they would do."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said the American security police, who are trained in using force, would "liase closely" with the British police in the event of a security breach.

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He said it is usual for the United States Air Force to deploy large numbers of security staff at bases where they have a "significant" military presence.

The armed guards will be patrolling around the base and conducting searches of persons and vehicles entering the base.

The reinforcement comes at a time when current security staff at the base are becoming increasingly stretched.

Sgt Hutchinson said: "Since September 11 and with the war on terrorism, the security has been stretched and over-tasked and this is one way of easing that."

WEBLINK

www.mildenhall.af.mil

www.lakenheath.af.mil

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