While no one knows what war with Iraq will bring, Darryl Northington is content not to find out. Northington, an officer with the University Police Department, is a reserve senior airman in the United States Air National Guard stationed at the Willow Grove Naval Base. As with many reservists, he is presently on alert status, waiting to find out whether he will become personally involved in Operation Desert Storm. Alert status normally means 72 hours prior notice before moving out but, Northington says, if war breaks out, he may get even less time to prepare. Northington is a jet-engine mechanic and spends his time in the National Guard working on A-10 anti-tank aircraft. The University Police Department has already lost one officer to the army. Officer Martin Turofski was supposed to graduate from the Police Academy on January 30th, but when he received his orders to report for duty, his graduation plans were postponed. There are also many University graduate students who are members of reserve forces. Jess Posey, a first-year Wharton graduate student and a resident advisor in Community House, joined the naval reserves in September last year after graduating the U.S. Naval Academy and serving eight years in the Navy. Posey said that since he is a ship engineer, it is doubtful that he will be called up "unless the actual ship is activated." Another Wharton MBA student, Brent Cavan, said he will probably not get called up for active duty either because he is primarily trained in the type of woodland and city fighting found in Europe. Air Force Academy graduate and Wharton graduate student Matt Johnson is technically in the inactive reserves since he left acctive duty in September of 1989. Like his classmates, Johnson described his chances of being called up "pretty slim." Even though there is no imminent chance of these men being called up, they are all watching the situation closely since they have ex-classmates and friends stationed in the Persian Gulf. In addition, Johnson is President of the Veterans Club at Wharton which has already sent care packages to two men who were supposed to be members of their class but were called up to active duty. All three reservists have much confidence in the troops stationed in the Arabian desert. Cavan said that Saddam Hussein is "in for a rude surprise", and "he will not know what hit him." Johnson added, "you will not see a waning resolve of American troops." Each of these graduate students has observed what Posey described as "intelligent commentary" on both sides of the issue at the University. Cavan said that he hopes this type of dialogue continues and that there will be no resurgence of "abhorrent" attacks on soldiers as seen during the Vietnam War. The reservists were not able to give their own opinions on the war because in their earliest days of training they are told not to give their feelings on military action to the press. This policy also applies to ROTC students, many of who refused to comment on the conflict last night because of the orders they received. But Midshipman Commander Doug Pfeifle, battalion commander of the Naval ROTC unit at the University and a Wharton senior, was given permission to give his own personal opinions on the conflict and information about the ROTC unit's status. Pfeifle said that the midshipmen "are not allowed to answer any policy questions" because as part of the Department of Defense their "job is not to dictate policy but to act when asked." ROTC members will not be called to active duty because they are considered civilians until they accept commissions from the Navy upon graduation. Pfeifle added that the general feeling among the ROTC ranks is "one of empathy" because the training they have had makes them feel like the soldiers' peers. In addition, Pfeifle said that he is personally concerned about the situation because of the people he knows serving in the Gulf, and that ROTC "will be giving them all the support we can give them." University Police Officer and active reservist Northington also was willing to support the war effort. He said he believes President Bush's choice to fight might have been the only one. "We have to quell this threat," he said. "If he is not stopped now, it could get much worse. If he can muster large support from the Arabs, it could get to be an even bigger problem." However, Northington still hopes that fighting will be limited. "War, in general, is not constructive," he added. "It's destructive and foolish."Comments powered by Disqus
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