More than 300 military reservists in Maryland -- all members of National Guard or Army Reserve units trained to run prisoner-of-war camps -- have been called to duty in connection with the growing U.S. operation in the Persian Gulf.
The men and women summoned yesterday are members of the 400th Military Police Battalion, an Army Reserve unit based at Fort Meade, and the 290th and 200th Military Police Companies, Army National Guard units based in Towson and Salisbury.
In telephone calls to their homes and offices, they were told to report Nov. 15 to their base or armory for what is expected to be several weeks of preparation. Although they have not yet been told their final destination, officials said it is likely they will be sent to the Middle East rather than to U.S. bases.
"Given the nature of their training, that's a logical conclusion to draw," said Lt. Col. Sue Dueitt, a spokeswoman for the Army Reserve.
For members of the Towson unit, especially, yesterday's orders followed a suspenseful summer and fall. They had been placed on standby status in late August, a warning that they could be called into action at any time, but the standby was rescinded about four weeks later.
They were again placed on standby on Thursday. This time, they received their orders within 24 hours.
Many in the two National Guard units hold civilian jobs as police officers or prison guards, said Capt. Michael O. Milord, a spokesman for the Maryland National Guard.
The Army Reserve battalion is more diverse.
"We have everything from lawyers to janitors to computer operators to housewives," said Sgt. 1st Class Hoy Lesniowski, a battalion spokesman.
He said members of the unit were previously scheduled to report to Fort Meade today and tomorrow for a routine drill. The session now will be used to make sure that necessary paperwork is in order before the reservists report for duty next week, Sergeant Lesniowski said.