TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) – an Indiana National Guard command unit will move its operations to Terre Haute from Indianapolis, with Guard leaders saying it will provide an alternate statewide command post in case of emergencies.
The 81st Troop Command will establish its headquarters at Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field, where it will be alongside the 181st Intelligence Wing of the Indiana Air National Guard, the Tribune Star and WTHI-TV reported.
The 81st Troop Command has about 2,000 soldiers among engineer and military police units, medical companies and a chemical company.
The command also serves as the Indiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force, responsible for responding to local, state and national disasters, both man-made and natural. The task force works with county emergency management agencies and the state’s Department of Homeland Security in response to emergencies in Indiana.
Indiana Adjutant General Martin Umbarger said moving the 81st Troop Command to the city near the Indiana-Illinois state line will give the National Guard more options in the event of disasters rather than having all headquarters operations in Indianapolis.
“I got all my eggs in one basket,” Umbarger said during an announcement event Tuesday. “What if something happened to downtown Indianapolis, if it’s hit with a terrorist attack or a nuclear bomb goes off, all my headquarters are located in one city?”
Umbarger said the Terre Haute airport’s 9,000-foot-long main runway could be used by military planes from around the country if federal assistance was needed for a disaster.
Col. Don Bonte, commander of the 181st Intelligence Wing, said the base’s hangar, built in 1954, will become fully utilized by the National Guard after another building is remodeled on the base for use by the intelligence unit.
Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett said the National Guard’s decision would benefit the city.
“It’s such a critical function for the military and it’s such an important thing for our community, from an economic development perspective, and to make sure that this base and airport continues to function at a high capacity,” Bennett said.
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