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The White House is beginning to execute its plan to deploy 532 National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexican border. Their purpose during a yearlong deployment will be to monitor for illegal border crossers and smugglers and assist in criminal investigations. According to Gen. Craig McKinley, the troops will be armed and authorized to defend themselves. However, as U.S. National Guard Bureau Director of Communications Jack Harrison explained, they “will not be doing direct law enforcement.” The troops will instead be assisting border patrol agents and local law enforcement by providing intelligence and intelligence analysis, surveillance and reconnaissance support, and the ability to train additional Customs and Border Protection agents. McKinley has also noted that no overseas deployments are affected by the border duty.
According to msnbc.com the troops will be distributed among the four border states – Arizona, Texas, California, and New Mexico. Other troops will be assigned to a national liaison office. Additionally, Alan Bersin, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection revealed that the Homeland Security Department will provide six more aircraft, including helicopters, to assist in the border effort. He also noted that at least 300 Customs and Border Protection agents and inspection officers would be sent to the Tucson, Arizona, area, along with mobile surveillance vans and additional technology.
Despite these numbers, there have been criticisms regarding the size and urgency of the deployment. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Arizona. Sens. McCain and Kyl of that state have requested $700 million in enhanced security measures, including 1,200 Border Patrol agents and 500 Customs and Border Protection officers. Additionally, U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick and Gabrielle Giffords, both Arizona Democrats, separately called the announced actions welcome but insufficient and this sentiment has been echoed by the governors of Arizona and Texas.
The last major deployment of National Guard troops to the border occurred in 2006 under the name Operation Jump Start. At its height the border force numbered 6,000, but the majority of these troops' deployments ended in 2008. Sen. McCain has been quite vocal about his desire to get border troops up to the 6,000 mark again.As it stands, this is already a major operation for the National Guard, but we shall see if the Obama administration yields to Arizona's pressure and commits more troops and equipment to the cause.
National Guard to arrive at Arizona-Mexico border (USA Today)
National Guard to head to border states Aug. 1 (AP)
1,200 National Guard Troops Being Deployed to Border Will Not Be Used to Stop and Detain Illegal Aliens (CNS News)
National Guard Troops Begin Deployment Along Southwest Border (ABC News)
Guardsmen to Deploy to Southern Border (AirForce-Magazine.com)