National Guard troops at border
In this file photo, an entry identification team made up of National Guard Soldiers man a post on Johnson Mountain in New Mexico. The team's mission is to gather intelligence about illegal immigrants attempting to enter the U.S. from Mexico and relay that information to Border Patrol agents.

WASHINGTON (June 23, 2010) -- About 1,200 National Guard troops will support the Department of Homeland Security in enhancing the security of the nation's Southwest border, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said here Tuesday.

"President Obama ... will deploy more than 1,200 National Guard troops to assist the ongoing efforts to secure the border and combat the cartels," Napolitano said during remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies about ongoing DHS initiatives and new strategies to bolster border security and enforce immigration laws.

"The National Guard deployments that have worked throughout the last 20 years ... has worked in a very, very coordinated fashion, to the point that it increases our capabilities in such a fashion that it puts more ... border patrol agents' boots on the ground," David Aguilar, deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said during a panel discussion following Napolitano's remarks.

"Support from the National Guard - but yet a clear division: them not arresting, not engaging in enforcement activities directly attributed to any illegal crossings of either aliens, narcotics or things of that nature - ... has worked out very well," Aguilar said. "The National Guard ... will bring us a tremendous amount of capability in securing our borders."

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

Obama has requested $500 million in supplemental funds for enhanced border security and law enforcement activities in addition to the deployment of National Guard troops, according to a DHS fact sheet.

Napolitano announced a slew of additional initiatives on Tuesday that include creating new partnerships with state and local law enforcement, building information-sharing capabilities, enhancing technology, prioritizing the arrest and removal of dangerous criminal aliens and expanding unprecedented law enforcement partnerships with Mexico.

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

The latest mission using 1,200 volunteers drawn from the four border states will provide criminal investigative analysis and entry identification teas in support of Customs and Border Protection for one year.

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

The deployment of National Guard troops is part of a multi-layered effort targeting illicit networks trafficking in people, drugs, illegal weapons and money, Guard officials said.

With nearly 470,000 Guardmembers in the 54 states and territories and the District of Columbia, the National Guard is uniquely suited to support homeland defense operations, to include border security missions.

(Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill writes for the National Guard Bureau.)

Page last updated Thu June 24th, 2010 at 10:09