Note: Comment: With a war at our southern border, it would seem an
logical and necessary location for U.S. military forces. But agree
it not a job for the Guard. Protecting our country's border is a
job for the regular Army. Would dispute that the Posse Comitatus Act
applies or would prevent troops at border. As is too often the case,
the ROE are rediculous. BTW, Mexican military has now, and a long
standing significant presence at the US/MEX border. Another thing,
if Mexico's presidential election goes really badly, is there any
plan to handle the fall out, the chaos? Sufficient resources? The
polls at present are not good.
National Guard withdrawing 900 troops from the U.S.-Mexico border
By Brian Bennett
April 18, 2012, 10:29 a.m.
WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon began flying military helicopters and
surveillance planes over the U.S. border with Mexico last month as
part of an effort to withdraw all but 300 of the National Guard
ground troops who have helped patrol the rugged border since mid-2010.
The 19-month deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops on the
southwest border has hurt recruiting efforts and threatened to strain
diplomatic relations with Mexico, Brian J. Lepore, a director at the
U.S. Government and Accountability Office, told a House homeland
security subcommittee hearing on Tuesday.
About 12 Blackhawk helicopters and several fixed-wing manned
surveillance planes began flying regular patrols over the Rio Grande
in Texas for a mission called "Operation River Watch II" in March.
The 300 troops will fly the aircraft, or analyze intelligence about
smuggling routes in command centers miles from the border.
The Obama administration deployed the National Guard to build access
roads for border patrols and to help spot smugglers. The extra
manpower was intended to bridge the gap while U.S. Customs and Border
Patrol hired an additional 1,200 agents.
In the first year, the National Guard troops helped apprehend 17,887
illegal immigrants and seize 56,342 pounds of marijuana, which was
5.9% of all apprehensions and 2.6% of marijuana seizures during that
time, officials said.
National Guard troops could man watchtowers and stare at closed-
circuit television screens of the fence line but were prohibited from
making arrests, and officials said morale suffered. The National
Guard leadership became concerned that the mission, if extended,
could hurt recruitment, according to a GAO report titled,
"Observations on Costs, Benefits, and Challenges of a Department of
Defense Role in Helping to Secure the Southwest Land Border."
Further use of National Guard troops "could create a perception of a
militarized U.S. border with Mexico," State Department officials told
the GAO. The Obama administration has worked with Mexico to
strengthen civilian law enforcement agencies to combat drug cartels
responsible for thousands of killings.
"We need to have a long-term vision and whole-of-government
approach to securing the southwest border that will replace the ad
hoc application of resources that has, to date, epitomized our
approach to border security," Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), who chairs
the subcommittee on border and maritime security, said in a statement.
Drawbacks Seen With Having National Guardsmen on Border
by Julián Aguilar April 18, 2012 3 Comments
When the Obama administration announced in December that it would
draw down the number of National Guard units that patrol the southern
border, critics said the decision would leave Texas vulnerable to
spillover violence from Mexico.
The administration, which last month reduced the number of guard
troops on the border from 1,200 to about 300, defended the move as a
step toward better efficiency. The mission of the guardsmen was
shifted from ground surveillance and assisting the U.S. Border Patrol
to primarily aerial surveillance efforts.
But as the debate on how to best secure the border with Mexico
continues, a new government report says that the use of National
Guard troops on the border can hinder recruitment efforts and pose a
challenge to long-term border security planning.
The report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the
investigative arm of Congress, also says that the presence of active
duty guards on the border may lead to the perception that the border
is militarized, which could hinder binational agreements between the
U.S. and Mexico aimed at fighting organized crime on the border.
Officials also cited benefits associated with the effort, including
filling in personnel gaps until potential Border Patrol agents were
trained and deployed, and providing necessary training for military
personnel in an environment similar to those they would see in combat
and helping to build relationships with other law enforcement agencies.
In a written statement to the U.S House Homeland Security
subcommittee on border and maritime security, however, Brian J.
Lepore, the GAO's director of defense capabilities and management
issues, argued that recruitment could be affected because potential
recruits may be against using out-of-state guardsmen on an
"involuntary status" for long-term missions, citing National Guard
Lepore also noted that Customs and Border Protection officials who
work with National Guard units say their temporary status makes long-
term border security planning challenging.
"These impacts are due to difficulties of incorporating the National
Guard into a strategic border security plan, given the variety and
number of missions that the National Guard is responsible for,
including disaster assistance," Lepore wrote.
Lawmakers who support the drawdown argue that the shift makes sense
because of these limitations and because the U.S. Border Patrol is
better staffed now than it has ever been. In fiscal year 2011, there
were more than 21,400 U.S. Border Patrol agents on the nation's
borders, including about 18,500 on the Southwest border. Federal
regulations also prevent National Guard troops from making arrests,
which limits their effectiveness.
"This is why I think that aerial support makes sense," said U.S. Rep.
Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, the subcommittee's ranking member. "Instead
of having 1,200 [soldiers] on the ground, you have 300 flying planes."
Cuellar said there are at least 12 National Guard helicopters
currently operating in Texas, in addition to several more fixed-wing
aircraft. Major Gen. John F. Nichols told the committee that since
the aerial operations commenced in March, the Texas portion of the
mission, known as Operation River Watch II, has resulted in assisting
Customs and Border Protection in the apprehension of 1,144 illegal
immigrants, the prevention of 25 human smuggling cases and the
seizure of more than two tons of marijuana.
The scope of the operation covers more than 200 miles of border from
Laredo to the Gulf Coast. During the National Guard's operations
before the drawdown, it was credited with assisting in the
apprehension of about 17,900 illegal immigrants and the seizure of
about 56,300 pounds of marijuana on the southwest border from July
2010 to June 2011.
Cuellar and Texas National Guard officials are also looking into
constructing a Joint Interagency Training Center in South Texas.
Cuellar said he and others envisioned the multimillion-dollar project
as a center where state, local and federal agencies could train
recruits and veteran agents, specifically from the Rio Grande Valley,
Laredo and Corpus Christi, without having to send them out of the state.
Lt. Col. Amy Cook, the public information officer for the Texas
National Guard, said officials began discussing the project this week
and that it is still in the discussion phase. A land deal in
southwest Texas that would have procured the necessary terrain for
the effort fell through, she said, and stakeholders are still
debating where to look to break ground.