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Fort Ritchie on heightened security alert

August 26, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

FORT RITCHIE - Fort Ritchie, like other U.S. military installations throughout the world, has been on heightened alert since American embassies in Africa were bombed.

Unlike most other bases, Fort Ritchie is nearing the end of a long closing process.

Soldiers have been guarding the main gate 24 hours a day, said spokeswoman Kathy Fotheringham.

"Which puts a very taxing toll on us since we're gearing down anyway," she said.

The base has 52 soldiers and 91 civilians remaining, Fotheringham said. But that figure changes almost daily as the fort prepares to close at the end of September.

Fotheringham said all entrances except the main gate have been closed and locked.

"If you can control the entrances and the exits, a great deal of the problem is going to go away," she said.

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Fotheringham said the skeleton crew that remains has learned to cooperate and take on jobs they are not accustomed to doing.

"If that means I've got to go down and take down the flag, I'll go down and take down the flag," she said.

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