Gaithersburg reservists prepare for possible war
Sep. 19, 2001
Peggy Vaughn
Staff Writer

The Hunton Reserve Center on Snouffer School Road has taken on a whole new look since the events of Sept. 11.

Concertina wires now drapes the driveway entrance and two Humvee personnel carriers parked behind that add a further protective barrier.

Inside the two-story brick building, home to the 220th Military Police Brigade, soldiers are now working round the clock.

Despite the obvious signs of a nation facing war outside the building, inside the mood is one of calm and getting down to business.

"We're getting ready for whatever the President asks us to do," said Lt. Col. Charles E. Bruce, the center's operations officer.

Some 2,500 reservists in Maryland and three surrounding states report to the center, which handles all their administrative support needs.

"If we get mobilized and deployed, this unit is a brigade headquarters and acts a command and control [center]," Bruce said. "We're keeping our [soldiers] informed. We have soldiers volunteering to come in even if they don't get paid. There's not a need for that now."

An additional 100 reservists physically train at the reserve center for one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer.

"We have one reservist that comes here from as far away as Arizona," Bruce said. "It takes a little extra to make that kind of sacrifice for your country, but [reservists] have a lot of pride and a sense of contributing."

The reservists may be tasked with taking the place of regular Army soldiers called overseas, or possibly deployed overseas themselves, he said.

Military police duties expand beyond law enforcement during times of war. They also protect airfields, fuel pipelines, supply lines and convoys and oversee captured enemy forces, he said.

But right now, the center is policing the paperwork and myriad of details involved in preparing troops for war.

And the local community is showing its appreciation for their efforts, Bruce said.

"People honk and wave as they drive by [the center]," he said. "I was shopping at the local Giant the other day and people kept stopping to ask what's going on and to show their support."