USA — Guard Stands Ready for Border Mission, General Says

WASHINGTON, May 5, 2010 — If civil­ian lead­ers decide to include the Nation­al Guard in a broad­er mis­sion on the South­west bor­der, the Nation­al Guard stands ready, the chief of the Nation­al Guard Bureau said this week.

“The pres­i­dent and the sec­re­tary of defense will tell me when the time is right [and] when the con­di­tions are right, whether they need [Guard mem­bers] or not,” Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKin­ley told reporters May 3. “Based on this mag­nif­i­cent force, … I don’t think there’ll be a prob­lem find­ing a force if autho­rized to help. But I’m not out look­ing for a mis­sion.”

About 6,000 Guard mem­bers served in Oper­a­tion Jump Start on the South­west bor­der for two years, start­ing in 2006, to sup­port the Bor­der Patrol while it recruit­ed and trained new agents to boost then size of its force. Today, a small num­ber of Nation­al Guard troops pro­vide coun­ter­drug bor­der sup­port.

Any new mis­sion like­ly would be much dif­fer­ent from Oper­a­tion Jump Start, Guard offi­cials said, per­haps focused on pre­vent­ing the spillover of drug vio­lence across the bor­der.

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma will meet with Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent Felipe Calderon lat­er this month, McKin­ley not­ed.

“Let’s let the pres­i­dents of the two coun­tries decide. … We will do what we’re asked to do,” he said. “Many of the South­west bor­der gov­er­nors have asked for Nation­al Guard forces, but those deci­sions will be giv­en to me by my lead­er­ship when the time is right.”

Nation­al Guard Bureau