News Article - December 12, 2008

  PHILADELPHIA (CBS 3) ? The sight of heavily armed officers patrolling the airport for a homeland security drill came as a big surprise for passengers arriving for flights at Philadelphia International Thursday. "I wanted to stand by them, I felt pretty secure" said an arriving traveler. The last time federal and local officers with machine guns on their shoulders were regularly seen here was in the days following September 11, 2001. Sources tell CBS 3 the previously planned deployment was not in response to any credible threat to Philadelphia's airport.

   The Transportation Security Administration had no comment to CBS 3 about training exercises, but passengers who had questions were given a flyer. The flyer explains the drill, called VIPR, Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response, is designed to "mitigate potential terrorist activity." "I think it is great that the government is demonstrating a very effective and capable response team operating in a realist live environment," said Homeland Security Expert Courtney Banks. Sources tell CBS 3 it has hoped the images from the two-day drill will serve as a warning to terrorists and a sobering reminder Americans must do all they can to be prepared.

Source - CBS3