USA — National Guard to Deploy Troops to Mexican Border

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2010 — The Nation­al Guard is send­ing 1,200 troops to the South­west bor­der states to pro­vide tem­po­rary sup­port for the U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion agency, offi­cials announced today.

The cit­i­zen-sol­diers and ‑air­men will serve along­side fed­er­al agents for one year as an aug­men­ta­tion force. The troops will work to pre­vent ille­gal immi­gra­tion and drug traf­fick­ing north of the bor­der, as well as to counter weapons and cash smug­gling going south, Alan Bersin, CBP com­mis­sion­er, said today at a Pen­ta­gon news con­fer­ence.

The deploy­ment will give CBP and the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty the time to hire and train 1,000 more bor­der patrol agents and CBP offi­cers, Bersin said.

The deploy­ment and mea­sures to increase bor­der patrol per­son­nel, he said, are part of ongo­ing efforts to strength­en the bor­der, he said. More than 340,000 ille­gal aliens and smug­glers have been appre­hend­ed along the bor­der since Octo­ber, he added.

“What we have to do is con­tin­ue … to be able to deal with the transna­tion­al crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tions …,” Bersin said. “To this extent, the Guard has been a tried and test­ed sup­port to law enforce­ment on the bor­der, and I’m con­fi­dent [it] will prove again this instance.”

Troops are expect­ed to begin deploy­ing to Texas, New Mex­i­co, Ari­zona and Cal­i­for­nia by Aug. 1. All 1,200 troops should be on the ground by Sep­tem­ber, Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKin­ley, Nation­al Guard Bureau chief, said at the news con­fer­ence.

“We’re very pleased to be in sup­port of our inter­a­gency part­ners,” McKin­ley said. “Our ramp-up will be over time, and we’ll make sure that all our sol­diers and air­men are well qual­i­fied, well inte­grat­ed and well briefed on the mis­sion at hand.”

Some troops will work as crim­i­nal and intel­li­gence ana­lysts. Oth­ers will sup­port CBP entry iden­ti­fi­ca­tion teams. Troops oper­at­ing in those capac­i­ties are under­go­ing train­ing now, McKin­ley not­ed. Also, about 300 guards­men are already on the ground work­ing on coun­ternar­cotics teams, he added.

“Those are specif­i­cal­ly the jobs that we’ve been asked to do,” McKin­ley said, not­ing those spe­cial­ties are well with­in the “job jar” of the Nation­al Guard.

“These are efforts that I think will bring syn­er­gy and bring real team­work togeth­er,” he said. “I know our young men and women will do a great job.”

Troops will be armed dur­ing the deploy­ment. How­ev­er, their weapons are for self-defense pur­pos­es, the gen­er­al explained. The CBP and bor­der patrol agents “have the lead” and deter­mine the amount of force nec­es­sary for cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, he added.

“Self pro­tec­tion means just that, that if under some kind of dan­ger, they are able to pro­tect them­selves, to extri­cate them­selves from the sit­u­a­tion,” McKin­ley said. “[Guards­men] will be tak­ing the lead from the law-enforce­ment per­son­nel who they will be assist­ing.”

The troops will only be deployed on the Unit­ed States side of the bor­der and will fol­low the rules of engage­ment set by the agen­cies in each state, the gen­er­al said. He added that the troops will fall under the com­mand and con­trol of the state gov­er­nors.

“We have done this before,” he said. “It is com­mon prac­tice for our sol­diers and air­men to fol­low the leads, to only take that action which is nec­es­sary to extri­cate them­selves from the sit­u­a­tion and not be provoca­tive.”

The bor­der deploy­ment does not hin­der the Guard’s mis­sion over­seas, McKin­ley said. Although states are pro­vid­ing guards­men for oper­a­tions in Iraq and Afghanistan, a “size­able” num­ber of troops remain avail­able for duty, he said.

“Right now I can­not see a case where we would be overex­tend­ing the Nation­al Guard in this effort,” he said.

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