USA — National Guard Ramps Up Southwest Border Support

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 2, 2010 — Nation­al Guard troops in four states are in train­ing today as they pre­pare to join col­leagues already sup­port­ing Bor­der Patrol agents on the nation’s South­west bor­der.

U.S./Mexico border near Nogales, Ariz.
An Army Nation­al Guard sol­dier works as a mem­ber of an entry iden­ti­fi­ca­tion team watch­ing the U.S./Mexico bor­der near Nogales, Ariz., dur­ing Oper­a­tion Jump Start on Jan. 17, 2007. Entry iden­ti­fi­ca­tion team s also will sup­port Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion to secure the bor­der dur­ing a new bor­der mis­sion that kicked off Aug. 1, 2010.
U.S. Army pho­to by Sgt. Jim Green­hill
Click to enlarge

The Nation­al Guard has been pro­vid­ing South­west bor­der sup­port for a num­ber of years through its coun­ter­drug pro­gram, said Army Maj. Gen. Peter Ayl­ward, who is coor­di­nat­ing the lat­est oper­a­tion at the Nation­al Guard Bureau. “Today we have more than 360 folks pro­vid­ing that kind of sup­port,” he added. “For this new mis­sion, we have 117 folks, and we’ll ramp up as part of a phased, delib­er­ate oper­a­tion to as many as 1,200.”

These Guards­men will sup­port Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion and Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment author­i­ties in Texas, New Mex­i­co, Ari­zona and Cal­i­for­nia.

Guard deploy­ments over the last 20 years have increased capa­bil­i­ties in such a fash­ion that it puts more Bor­der Patrol agents’ boots on the ground, David Aguilar, deputy cus­toms and bor­der pro­tec­tion com­mis­sion­er, said in June after Home­land Secu­ri­ty Sec­re­tary Janet Napoli­tano announced the lat­est deploy­ment.

Home­land Secu­ri­ty works with fed­er­al, state, local, trib­al and Mex­i­can part­ners to crack down on bor­der-relat­ed crime and smug­gling while facil­i­tat­ing legit­i­mate trav­el and com­merce.

Sup­port from the Nation­al Guard has worked out very well, Aguilar said, not­ing that the Guards­men don’t arrest or engag­ing in enforce­ment activ­i­ties direct­ly attrib­uted to ille­gal cross­ings of aliens or nar­cotics. “The Nation­al Guard … will bring us a tremen­dous amount of capa­bil­i­ty in secur­ing our bor­ders,” he added.

“We’re designed to be in a sup­port role for [Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion and Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment],” Ayl­ward said. “When­ev­er there is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for law enforce­ment func­tions, it is up to those law enforce­ment offi­cials to take what­ev­er action they can under the author­i­ties that they already have.”

The major­i­ty of the Guard mem­bers will sup­port the Bor­der Patrol with entry iden­ti­fi­ca­tion teams and sup­port Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment with crim­i­nal inves­tiga­tive ana­lysts for one year.

The teams mon­i­tor the bor­der from strate­gic obser­va­tion points with state-of-the-art sur­veil­lance and detec­tion tac­tics and tech­nol­o­gy in sup­port of local law enforce­ment.

“It equates to what we nor­mal­ly do in mil­i­tary ops as obser­va­tion posts/listening posts,” Ayl­ward said, “but there is some unique gear, and there are some unique pro­to­cols that they use from an oper­a­tional secu­ri­ty point of view that the teams real­ly need to under­stand how to use them because they’ll be out in very remote loca­tions in some instances.”

The crim­i­nal inves­tiga­tive ana­lysts will assist Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment agents in reduc­ing the flow of ille­gal bulk cur­ren­cy and weapons from the Unit­ed States to Mex­i­co.

“Their work has to use spe­cial sys­tems, and because the peo­ple may be doing this for the first time, we want to make sure they’re thor­ough­ly vet­ted and thor­ough­ly under­stand what kind of activ­i­ty they will be per­form­ing while they’re on that mis­sion,” Ayl­ward said. “These are things that will fill key, niche areas for our col­leagues so that they can recruit, train and employ more than 1,000 folks over that one-year peri­od of time.”

The largest num­ber of troops – 524 – is slat­ed to deploy in Ari­zona, accord­ing to a Home­land Secu­ri­ty Depart­ment news release. An esti­mat­ed 250 will deploy in Texas, 224 in Cal­i­for­nia and 72 in New Mex­i­co. Addi­tion­al troops from these states also will serve in com­mand and con­trol or sup­port posi­tions.

“Both the Air Guard and the Army Guard will be mem­bers of the team,” Ayl­ward said. “It’s a great team effort to help pro­vide that bridge to our col­leagues.”

Last week, for exam­ple, about 20 mem­bers of the Cal­i­for­nia Air Guard’s 163rd Recon­nais­sance Wing based at March Air Reserve Base, and the 147th Com­bat Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Squadron out of San Diego were deployed to the bor­der as part of the state’s sup­port of Home­land Secu­ri­ty.

The Nation­al Guard suc­cess­ful­ly sup­port­ed the bor­der secu­ri­ty mis­sion dur­ing Oper­a­tion Jump Start from 2006 to 2008.

“The Nation­al Guard his­tor­i­cal­ly has always per­formed well,” Ayl­ward said. “This is a very impor­tant mis­sion for this nation that’s an inten­si­fi­ca­tion of ear­li­er efforts that began in 1993. This is just anoth­er chap­ter of a great ini­tia­tive.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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