National Guard ramps up Southwest border support
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. EITs will also support Customs and Border Protection to secure the border during the new border mission, which kicked off Aug. 1, 2010.

ARLINGTON, Va., (Army News Service, August 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.

"The National Guard has been providing Southwest border support for a number of years through our 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. 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 , Immigration, and Customs Enforcement authorities in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

"The National Guard deployments ... throughout the last 20 years ... increases our capabilities in such a fashion that it puts more ... Border Patrol agents' boots on the ground," David Aguilar, CBP's deputy commissioner, said in June after Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced the latest deployment.

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.

"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."

The majority of the Guardmembers will support the Border Patrol with entry identification teams and support ICE with criminal investigative analysts for one year. The criminal investigative analysts will assist ICE agents in reducing the flow of illegal bulk currency and weapons from the United States to Mexico.

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 largest number of troops - 524 - is slated to deploy to Arizona, according to a DHS press release. An estimated 250 will deploy to 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."

Page last updated Tue August 3rd, 2010 at 15:34