By Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, National Guard BureauAugust 16, 2010
ARLINGTON, Va., (Army News Service, Aug. 16, 2010) -- About one-third of the 1,200 troops that have been authorized to support the Department of Homeland Security-requested Southwest border mission have received their orders, Guard officials said.
"As of today ... we have about 470 on orders for this mission across all four Southwest border states," said Jack Harrison, the director of communications for the National Guard Bureau Thursday.
He added that the remainder of the 1,200 will join the mission over the next 60 to 90 days.
"I'm confident that we will have the folks that we need in that time period," he said.
During that time, Guardsmen in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California will train with Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities.
"That time is for training, and training is critical," Harrison said. "We don't want Guardsmen doing a mission that they are not trained and ready to do. So, we have to take the time to make sure they understand what they are being trained and asked to do and that they are equipped and familiarized with CBP equipment that they may be using."
"We are on track with the plan as it was agreed to by DHS and by DoD," he said.
Deploying National Guard forces will enhance DHS' ongoing border security operations.
"Our role is to help them bridge to a thousand more agents," Harrison said. "And we are pleased to be supporting our partners in the interagency."
The 1,200 Guardsmen activated for this mission will support the Border Patrol with entry identification teams and support ICE with criminal investigative analysts 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 criminal investigative analysts will assist ICE agents in reducing the flow of illegal bulk currency and weapons from the United States to Mexico.
In addition to this mission, Harrison said the National Guard has had a long-standing relationship with DHS on the border. "We have a 20-year relationship in the counterdrug arena. There are more than 350 National Guardsmen working with that mission who are already on the Southwest border."