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DoD News Briefing with Lt. Gen. Blum from the Pentagon

Presenters: Chief, National Guard Bureau, Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum
July 14, 2006
GEN. BLUM:  Good morning, folks.  Thanks for the opportunity to talk with you today.  We're going to talk about the Southwest border mission, that seems to be a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding out there, and we hope to clear some of that up here this morning.   


            There's a chart to my left, your right, I'd like to direct your attention to, and it kind of gives you the big picture for what your National Guard is doing around the world and here at home this morning.  You can see that we have 69,000 people deployed overseas in the global war on terrorism, both Army Guard and -- Army National Guard and Air National Guardsmen in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa, the Sinai, the Balkans, and in about 40 other countries in addition to that in smaller numbers.   


            At the same time, we are preparing for the upcoming hurricane season -- in fact, we're in the hurricane season, just so far we've been lucky and we've had a very inactive hurricane season as far as landfall in the United States.  But this year, the scientists and the experts tell us that we will probably get hit with several significant hurricanes and that we may see them hit in places that we haven't seen in the last two years, such as along the Mid-Atlantic coast and maybe even in New England.  So we have redoubled our efforts over the last nine months, since Katrina and Rita and Wilma, and everywhere from Maine to Texas, the states shown in the light blue, are much, much better trained, exercised and equipped and prepared, at least at the National Guard level, to respond to this hurricane season. 


            In addition to that, we have about 8,000 National Guardsmen around the country either fighting forest fires or doing critical infrastructure protection.  And about 3,600 of those are today in the Southwest border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico or Texas. And that number will grow to up to 6,000 by the 1st of August, as promised.   


            Now, this mission on the Southwest border does not reduce our capability to provide Army and Air Guardsmen to the combatant commanders for the GWOT.  That does in no way diminish our capability in that regard.  At the same time, it does not diminish the equipment or the troops available in the pale blue states, which are the hurricane-threatened states. 


            We have been very cognizant and careful not to pull significant numbers or units or capabilities out of those states to do the Southwest border mission.  We have relied on the former states, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, to take the first rotation as heavy as they can, and we have augmented New Mexico and Arizona significantly because they are smaller National Guards then the huge National Guard that Texas has and California has.  So most of the rotational forces that will come from outside other states there is right now 30 other states that are contributing to this mission. There are 30 governors that have signed a memorandum of agreement.  We expected every governor will ultimately sign the memorandum of agreement.  We have had no governor tell us no.  We have had no governor refuse to participate in this operation contrary to some of -- the reports that you have heard. 


            There is a great cooperation, collaboration amongst the nations' governors, and they understand the importance of having the National Guard be a reliable, essential and ready force because they are also commanders in chief of their National Guard.  And since September 11th, 2001, they have seen how essential the Guard is both overseas for the global war on terrorism and here at home to deal with natural or man-made disasters that may happen in our own nation. 


            So as you can see, the numbers have changed.  I did this purposely because I showed you this chart in May, and I wanted you to see the trends since May.  You can see we now have more soldiers in the National Guard than we did in May.  Our recruiting continues to be extraordinarily effective.  We have just concluded the ninth consecutive best recruiting month in the history of the National Guard since the end of the draft.  So in the last 35 years, we have never seen nine consecutive recruiting months or a net gain to the extent that we are enjoying right now.  The young men and women of this nation are responding to the challenge and to the missions that the Guard's being called upon.  They are staying with us in unprecedented numbers.  They have served being at war now almost five years and being used at an unprecedented rate and unprecedented amounts of troops being called up.  Everyone who joins the Army or Air National Guard knows that they will deploy; it's just a matter of when.  And yet that has not shown any reluctance on their part to join our ranks, which I think says -- speaks volumes about the magnificent young men and women of this nation and how well that people support the National Guard. 


            So what are we going to do on the border?  We are going to provide a military capability in support of civilian law enforcement. 


            The law enforcement agency in this case is Customs and Border Protection. It's part of the Department of Homeland Security.  It's called CBP.  It is the Customs and Border Patrol reorganized since -- in the last few years.  And they have the responsibility -- the legal authority and the legal obligation and responsibility -- to secure our nation's borders, both on the northern tier and as well as the Southwest border. 


            The National Guard has no responsibility in this whatsoever, but we do have a responsibility to provide military capabilities when we are called upon by the Department of Defense, and in this case we were directed by the president and the secretary of Defense to work with the governors of the four border states and provide them the military capabilities that the governors asked for, that the Customs and Border Protection organization has asked for.  They generate the requirements. They tell the military which tasks they would like the military to perform, what skill sets they want us to bring, what capabilities they want us to deliver for them so that they can do their job more effectively.   


            We are not replacing the Border Patrol.  We are not doing law enforcement.  That is the legal function of the Border Patrol.  We have provided the troops of the National Guard to the four border states.  And the president has -- and the secretary of defense have put them down there under U.S. Code Title 32, which means that the commanders of the National Guard forces in California will be Governor Schwarzenegger, and the commander of the National Guard forces in Arizona will be the governor of Arizona, and the same for New Mexico and the same for Texas.   


            It was a deliberate decision to do that.  That decision, I think, was prudent for two reasons.  The border is an international border, absolutely national responsibility, but it is also the border of the state, and the state has great equities in how that border is protected.  So it's a great sharing of responsibility and authorities and resources between the state and the federal government. 


            And it is built on a time-proven model we have been operating on the Southwest border now for over 20 years, military support to drug enforcement agencies.  We took that proven model, and we took the Department of Defense's innovative readiness training model, which produced many of the roads, much of the fencing, some of the lighting and barriers that exist on the Southwest border.  


            That was done by Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force engineers and construction units over the last 20 years as part of a Department of Defense innovative readiness initiative.  The Guard has done significant work in that regard; perhaps 80 percent of the total effort in the infrastructure over the last 20 years has been performed by the Guard. 


            And then there's another partner in this border.  It's called the Mexican government and the people of Mexico.  They share this border as well.  They are used to seeing the National Guard on the border. They are accepted.  They realize we're there temporarily.  We come in on short rotations, by and large, and we're there for a few weeks, then we leave.  And what we do there does not threaten their liberties, their lives or their freedom, and it's accepted.  So putting the National Guard down there in greater numbers actually does not excite our Mexican friends and allies in any unproductive manner. 


            What exactly are we going to do with the troops that we send down there?  We will amplify what they call the tactical infrastructure for the Customs and Border Protection Agency.  That means we'll build some roads.  We will maintain some of the roads down there that are very rudimentary but absolutely necessary to be able to give the Border Patrol the mobility to move east to west along that border.  It is a very, very difficult, frontier-like border in many places.  In other places, it is very mountainous and very restrictive.  And then in other parts of the border, it is clearly -- almost like a(n) urban megalopolis.  If you go -- if you're familiar with El Paso and Juarez, it's literally almost one giant city divided by a(n) international border that's really a very small stream that we call the Rio Grande. 


            So we'll be doing that.  That will constitute about 25 percent of the effort that we do down there.  The Customs and Border Protection people call that tactical infrastructure.  What that means to you is roads, fences, lighting, sensors, towers with cameras and things that you've seen in the past, mostly in the San Diego region.  If you've ever been in San Diego, that's what they're trying to do, is to give you that kind of tactical infrastructure. 


            That has proven to be very effective in controlling drugs and illegal immigration in the San Diego Sector.   


            And so, obviously, if it works there, they think that it will work in other places and (we will go ?).  Twenty-five percent of our effort will be directed to doing that kind of work. 


            In addition, we'll give them some aviation support so that they have greater mobility.  We'll also do some aerial reconnaissance. It's a vast area.  We're talking about an area that's probably 1,300 miles in expanse from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.  A lot of it doesn't have roads and infrastructure, so the very best way you can observe what's going on or know what's going on is fly over it, observe it from the air.  We'll help them with that.  There are places where there's very difficult time-distance to move between Point A and Point B because of the lack of roads and infrastructure.  Our aviation support will help them immensely in that regard as well.  And that's probably going to be about 10 percent of our effort.   


            We'll have a command and control and support element that receives our soldiers as they come in from the 50 states that contribute forces to this mission.  They will be briefed; they will be given cultural awareness training, because this is a very different part of our nation from the rest of our nation, and there are some political sensitivities and cultural sensitivities that we want our soldiers to be aware of when they're operating in that environment. So that will take a little bit of time, several hours or a couple of days to get them to understand the rules of the use of force, the climate they're going to be operating in, the insects and reptiles that they're going to run into in certain places there that they're unfamiliar with and need to know how to handle -- things like the. 


            We'll provide some communication support, some medical support, some intelligence analysis, when that mission gets approved by the Department of Defense.  It has not been approved yet, so we're not doing that yet, but we anticipate we will be doing that because we do that in the drug enforcement mission.  I want to be very, very clear to you, the drug enforcement -- military assistance to the Drug Enforcement Agency will continue, but that will be a separate, stand- alone, parallel operation.  We're not commingling that with this. 


            This mission is called Operation Jump Start, and it is not named by the Department of Defense.  That's the Customs and Border Protection name for their operation -- or the Department of Homeland Security's operation, Jump Start.  This is not a military operation.  We are in support of a Department of Homeland Security operation or a Customs and Border Protection operation.  So unlike most of the briefings you get here from people in uniform where they talk about operation this, or operation that, and it's truly a military operation, this is anything but a military operation.   


            This is truly a civilian law enforcement operation that we happen to be in support of. 


            I think with that, I would rather hear what your concerns and questions are beyond what I already described. 




            Q     General, the rules of the use of force, what are they?  And what percentage of your force do you expect to actually have to worry about that?  And when you and Secretary McHale talked to us about this initially, you hadn't yet determined what those metrics were going to be to see if this makes any difference at all.  Have you guys identified how you're going to measure if progress has been made? 


            GEN. BLUM:  Okay, let me deal with them in reverse order.  The metrics of effects.  I would rather let the people we're supporting, the Customs and Border Protection folks, decide how effective we are. We are delivering capabilities and effects that they have requested. It's best that I let them grade the paper and tell us how effective we are.  Otherwise, we get into an unhelpful comparison of are we as good as we think we are.   


            We know what they've asked us to do.  I have re-verified what they've asked us to do as of two days ago.  I had a customer satisfaction survey.  Not really; I met with all of the Customs and Border Patrol chiefs from the nine sectors.  As you can see on this map, we have four states involved, but those four states are subdivided into nine sectors.  Two of the sectors overlap state boundaries.  So it depends who you ask as to how satisfied people are.  


            So I wanted to go to the root people in charge of each of those sectors.  We met with all nine of them.  In addition to the nine sector chiefs, Chief Aguilar was there, who is the Customs and Border Protection chief here in Washington, and their commissioner was also there, their senior-most member was there as well.  So all 11 of them met with the four adjutants general from the states and the four Joint Task Force commanders from the National Guard.   


            So all of the people that own the mission and the territory that you see on this map met face to face in El Paso 48 hours ago, and I challenged them personally, as you do me when we meet, to tell me are we delivering what you're asking for, how you're asking for it, where you're asking for it, on time.  And the answer was universally yes.  There was absolutely not one sector chief that had one critical comment or dissatisfaction with the National Guard in terms of capabilities, in terms of numbers and in terms of timing in meeting the timeline of their expectations and as we have advertised.  


            They acknowledge the receipt of all of the capabilities we promised by 15 June, which was the first 800 -- which we exceeded and delivered 1,037.  And then by the end of June, we were supposed to have 2,500 in there.  We did not have 2,500 in there; we had 2,800 in there.  They acknowledge that they were in place and they were doing exactly the tasks that we -- that they expected us to do.  That has been erroneously re-reported again and again in the press, where it has taken on a life of its own.  But if you want fact and you want truth, we exceeded the 2,500.  And we are on the glide slope to deliver up to 6,000 by the 1st of August. 


            Having said that -- let me finish your question there -- the rules of use of force for these people are universal.  They're the same in California as they are in Arizona as they are in New Mexico as they are in Texas.  Every state that sends troops there will have a blue trifold card.  I will get you a copy of the card.  Because rather than read the card to you or tell you what's in it, let me give you the executive summary.  Every Guardsman that goes down there has the inherent right of self-protection.  They can protect themselves.  We will arm those that are in mission profiles that put soldiers in harm's way.  They will carry side arms.  They will carry ammunition, and they do have the right to self-protect.  And there are other rules that are in there that keep them from abusing the -- any authority over use of lethal force.  I mean, they're prudent.  They are vetted by the Department of Defense.  They were vetted by the Department of Homeland Security.  They were vetted by the Border Patrol, and they're vetted by the attorney generals of all of the contributing states that are going in there.  They're pretty solid rules of use of force.  And I -- make sure she gets a copy of it.  We'll give her -- 


            Q     What percentage will be in that position, where they would be carrying side arms? 


            GEN. BLUM:  You know, I don't know.  But I'll have to tell you, if I had to give you a rough order of magnitude, I'd say somewhere around 40 percent. 


            Let me tell you what we're not doing.  We're not putting 6,000 armed National Guardsmen on the border as a show of force.  That's not what the Border Patrol wants us to do.  That's not what any of the governors wants us to do.  That's not what the president has asked us to do.  That's not what we're going to do.  That's not our mission.   


            We are -- our mission is to provide the capabilities that I described and the percentages that I described to support the Border  Patrol so that they have an enhanced intelligence capability, they have an enhanced mobility capability, they have an enhanced infrastructure capability, and we can expand their eyes and their ears so they can see more and they can hear more and they can focus their law enforcement effort more effectively than they're doing right now. 


            I expect to be out of this mission in two years.  I expect to work our way out of this mission.  As the Border Patrol trains more people, develops more infrastructure, has more technological enablers, I think the National Guard will be out of this mission in two years or less, to be frank about it. 


            Did that answer your question completely? 


            Q     Not quite completely. 


            What kind of jobs will the people be doing that need to carry weapons? 


            GEN. BLUM:  Well, they'll be doing jobs that puts them in harm's way or proximity to the criminal element on the border -- 


            Q     This could be -- somebody building a road would need protection. 


            GEN. BLUM:  Yeah, somebody who's building a road close to the border in a contentious area, they will have either armed escorts, and those armed escorts will be Customs and Border Patrol law enforcement officers and, if necessary, we will augment that Customs and Border Patrol officer or officers with soldiers who are armed to provide protection to the other soldiers and airmen that are operating bulldozers and graders and focusing on construction work, and these other people will focus on providing safety and security. 




            Q     A quick follow-up.  The roughly 40 percent that will be armed, is it mostly sidearms they'll be carrying? 


            GEN. BLUM:  Mostly sidearms.  There will be some rifles and there'll be some shotguns.  But we're not going to be taking machine guns or mortars.  We are not invading.  This is not a -- we are not defending our border and we're not invading Mexico.  So all we're doing is protecting our soldiers, so we'll arm them for that particular purpose. 


            Q     In the aerial recon, what are we talking about here for that? 


            GEN. BLUM:  We're talking about helicopters, we're talking about fixed-wing aircraft, we're talking -- and we're talking about probably UAVs in the future.   


            Q     Any ballpark on the numbers across the board? 


            GEN. BLUM:  What are you asking? 


            Q     From all the fixed-wing to UAVs, ballpark on the numbers. 


            GEN. BLUM:  No.  I think that will fluctuate, frankly, on the requirement.  This is a dynamic mission.  What we start off doing will be the initial set.  We're not going to be inflexible and rigid and keep it the same for the whole two years.  As a matter of fact, it should come down, it should reach its peak at 6,000 and it should stay there.  And then, as the Border Patrol stands up their capabilities, we ought to be taking that down.  As they go up, we should be coming down.   


            So that number will change, Tom.  I'd be reluctant to give you a steady-state number because I don't think I could do it if I wanted to. 


            Yes, sir? 


            Q     I just want to go over the numbers.  Sixty-nine thousand National Guard troops are currently deployed on the global war on terrorism.  Can you say how many National Guard troops have returned recently from Iraq and Afghanistan and can't be deployed for -- I think it's one or two years?  And also -- 


            GEN. BLUM:  Okay, I can, but this has nothing to do with that. The people that are in this mission are going to be, first of all, in two categories:  duration people, people that will be there longer than a couple of weeks; some will be there 30 days, some will be there 90 days, some will be there a year.  There will be some examples of people that may be there two years from the start of the mission till conclusion of the mission.  


            That's the duration force.  We're also requiring this year probably are going to have rotate about 50,000 soldiers from all around the country in three week annual training rotations; their normal, expected annual training that they pull every year.  We will expand it by a week; normally they pull 15 days.  The employers expect it, the families expect it, the service members expect it.  This is normal routine training.  All we're going to do is add a couple days on the training because I need time to get them there; I need time to give them this cultural awareness training, rules, use of force and then get them absorbed into the mission. 


            It'll be a two-day right seat ride, left seat ride, if you're familiar with that terminology, where the person their replacing actually tells them how to do their job for a day or two and then they do the job for a day or two, and then, that person that was doing the job goes home and they stay there and do the job.  That will require about 50,000 soldiers to rotate in there for three week periods of time so that we continue to keep the capabilities and the skill sets that the Customs and Border Protection Agency requires of us.  None of those people are being mobilized for two years.  Nobody is being mobilized for this.  Nobody is on Title 10 orders.  This has nothing to do with the mobilization cap.  This is almost exclusively volunteers. 


            This -- and when I say almost exclusively, it is exclusively volunteers.  This is -- if you're in a unit, your unit gets sent down there, maybe you didn't personally volunteer, but your unit was going to Fort AP Hill, Virginia to do engineer work, and you find out, "No, we're not going to Virginia.  You're going to Arizona, and you're going to do engineer work."  The only difference is the training you get will be in an environment that really is a better environment, a more realistic environment.  It's a real operational mission, and the engineer work you do instead of tearing it down at the end of two weeks and leaving a pile of dirt for somebody else to rearrange when they come in with their equipment is that you are leaving something lasting, and that is, improving the capability of the Customs and Border Protection Agency. 


            Q     So if I understand you, those units that have recently returned can be part of this mission for the three weeks?  Can you also talk about -- 


            GEN. BLUM:  Yes.  The answer is yes, but nobody is coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan or an overseas and being forced to do this.  There are some people down there that have just come back from Iraq and Afghanistan and want to do it.  That's a different paradigm all together. 


            Q     Can you talk about is there an amount or percentage of the National Guard that has to be in the United States by law that can't be deployed? 


            GEN. BLUM:  No.  No such thing exists.  What does exist is an arrangement that I have with the governors to provide them at minimum of 50 percent of their capabilities at all times. 


            We have made that agreement almost two years ago.  And since, in the last two years, we have ensured that every governor had at least 75 percent of their forces available back at home.   


            We have done a tremendous job of being sensitive to the requirements of the governor for their homeland defense and to support the homeland security operations, yet at the same time, the governors have been extremely patriotic and supportive of sending their National Guard overseas as part of the United States Air Force and Army forces that are generated to the combatant commanders overseas.  It has been an amazing partnership in a positive sense between the governors and the Department of Defense. 


            Yes, ma'am? 


            Q     You say that one of your missions in this operation is intelligence support, but not intelligence analysis.  Can you explain what is the difference here and why can you do one and not the other? 


            GEN. BLUM:  No, that -- I want to rephrase your question a little bit, make sure that I understand what you're asking me and I didn't misspeak.  If you have it right, I misspoke.   


            What we are doing -- here's what we cannot do, so that you know clearly what we will never do and not do.  We will not collect intelligence on American people with United States military forces, to include the National Guard.  We're prohibited by law.  It is absolutely illegal to do that.   


            So, what can we do?  We can put intelligence analysts who can take law-enforcement-secured information and coalesce it in a pattern that provides some better analytics to them so that they, instead of having little fragments of information collected by law enforcement, they actually connect the dots for them and help them understand and analyze what they're collecting.  We do not collect intelligence, but we are allowed to analyze and support civilian law enforcement with intelligence analysis.   


            We are doing that currently with the counternarcotics mission that we're conducting in the United States, to include down on the Southwest border.  That authority to do that has to come out of ASDIO, Information -- I mean, Intelligence Oversight Office of the DOD.   


            A request from the Border Patrol has gone to the DOD to ask that the National Guard be allowed to do that.  I have not gotten that green light yet.  I'm not saying that we won't, but I am not going to put anybody in that role until we do.  And if we get a red light and they say, no, we don't want to do that in this particular operation, we won't do that.  But that's what we are preparing people to be ready to do.   


            We're not going to go out and interrogate illegals.  We are not going to arrest illegals.  The National Guard will not even handle or be in custody of illegal immigrants at any time. 


            That is clearly a law enforcement role.  And the governors don't want their National Guard doing that, and the president doesn't want the National Guard doing that, the Secretary of Defense doesn't want to do that.  So we'll do what we're asked to do and no more. 


            Q     Do you think the green light is going to be coming in the near future? 


            GEN. BLUM:  I would expect it will be.  But until it is here, we will not do that mission. 


            Yes, sir? 


            Q     You said that the governors have all done what they've been asked to do.  But Governor Schwarzenegger refused to send California Guard outside of the state, is the way we understand.  So is there some difference between what we've been told and your understanding? 


            GEN. BLUM:  No.  No.  There's some difference between what we've been told and what's really going on.  Let me give you a perfect example.   


            Governor Schwarzenegger has been fully supportive of this mission -- I'm going to tell you that right upfront.  He has -- California has met and exceeded the number of soldiers that were required by the Customs and Border Protection people in California.  They have not failed to deliver any capability that Customs or Border Protection people want in California. 


            What he has said is with forest fires and mudslides and the other natural events that happen in California, he -- as the hurricane states that I showed you earlier -- is reluctant to let California -- he's not reluctant to send National Guardsmen overseas; he is reluctant to send National Guardsmen from his state on this particular mission into other states for this particular mission.  That's fine. That's fine.  I will -- that's perfectly acceptable.  He's got his sector; he's got basically one-fourth of the border, essentially one- fourth of the border, and he's covering that very well.  We can deal with Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.  By the way, those governors feel essentially the same way, essentially the same way.  I don't think Governor Schwarzenegger is absolute in that, I just think he set that as a general guideline, and that's -- and we can live with it and it's acceptable to us.  I think it's been a very satisfactory arrangement. 


            Q     You can meet your goal without shifting California Guard to other states? 


            GEN. BLUM:  Oh, sure.  And let me tell you -- I mean, California has a National Guard availability of over 15,000 soldiers right now. So they're a very robust National Guard, and they have a very deep bench of capabilities; they have a very good mix of their skill sets. It's a very robust Guard -- Army and Air.  So, if they cover their sector, I'm very satisfied with that, and so is the Department of Defense, and so is the Customs and Border Patrol -- or Border Protection people. 


            Yes, sir? 


            Q     David -- (inaudible) -- from ABC.  A couple of questions. On the numbers, you said 2,500 were in July 1st -- or 2,800 -- excuse me.  And I believe as of yesterday, 3,500 were in, but of those, only 1,100 were actually on the job.  So, I know that others are considered training and transition.  So have you actually fulfilled what you wanted to do by July 1? 


            GEN. BLUM:  Absolutely.  And I have a chart that might help with that.  This really might help get to that.  Let me show a real simple chart that -- if you're looking at this mission through the eyes of Customs/Border Protection people only, you wouldn't see anything on the left side of this chart.  Okay?  So if you can exclusively just look to the right of that line, that's -- those things that the Border Patrol wants us to do that are directly operationally visible, easily visible on the border.   


            In order to generate those capabilities in those four states, I have to have a command and control apparatus, a logistics apparatus, an administrative support apparatus; a reception -- people to receive these people, schedule these people, liaison with the Border Patrol, keep them fed, keep them paid, take care of them medically, make sure that they have places to live, know where they're going to work, brief them, set up the rotation and transportation to bring them in and take them out.  All of that is invisible to the Border Patrol but is necessary in those numbers.   


            So that is the root of the confusion, to be frank about it.  The truth of it is that I have a Social Security account number and direct deposit; I have to pay everybody that we cut an order on.  Dave, if I send you down there and you're in the Guard, I know you're there because I'm paying you, and I'm tracking you by Social Security number.  If I tell you there's 3,592 there today, there are 3,592 there that are on orders receiving federal taxpayers' dollars to be down there performing that mission.  And if they're not there and I know about it and I'm still counting them, I go to jail.  So if I -- 


            Q     Are they building roads? 


            GEN. BLUM:  Well, some of them are.  Some of them are building roads.  Some of them you won't see at all, even though they're there. I mean, if you go down on the border and you're looking and you say, "My God, where's the National Guard?"  First of all, the border's  1,300 miles long.  We're stretched all across that.  There are people performing functions that are called Entry Identification Team members.  They basically observe illegals or people coming across the border day and night with night-vision goggles and binoculars and GPSs, and they radio that information to the Border Patrol so the Border Patrol can intersect or intercept those people, determine whether it's criminal or it's legitimate, and then take the law enforcement action necessary. 


            There's about 2,500 people that will be involved in that by the 1st of August.  Most of those you'll never see, if they're doing their job right.  You won't even see them.   


            The Border Patrol doesn't own these forces.  There was some confusion early on that because we were supporting them, essentially they come into their system, get accounted for in their system.  And I said, no, that's not the way it works. You tell us what you want us to do.  We're in a system.  We're in the DOD personnel system.  They pay us.  They account for us.  They track us.  You just tell us what jobs you want to do, and I'll deliver the capabilities.   


            We're beyond that now.  They finally understand that.  Initially there was some confusion, and that's where I think we got the well- intended differences in the numbers and how they're counted. 


            STAFF:  (Off mike) -- one or two more. 


            GEN. BLUM:  Yeah. 


            Yes, sir? 


            Q     Sir, you mentioned at the top that primarily right now you have National Guard forces from the four border states in the lead right now, or that they're the ones that are actually present in those states right now for their first rotation.  Can you explain how -- or expand on that, what you mean by that first rotation, what you anticipate seeing after that, how long will this first rotation go on for? 


            GEN. BLUM:  Okay.  The border is not homogenous.  The terrain on the border is different in different places.  And the states are not homogenous.  The issues on the borders are different in the different -- in the states.  And they're different in the nine sectors.  So if you think that anything I'm going to tell you, you can walk down to any part of this border and it will be exactly the same in any one place and the sector next  door to it, it is not.  They will all be done a little bit different. 


            So it is not one size fits all, and each sector has tailored their requirements and their force structure; and how they're doing what they're doing is not exactly the same in every place.  There's nothing wrong with that.  You have to understand that's the way they do their business and we're not in there to do their business, we're  in there to support their business.  So we accommodate those differences.  Okay?  So that should help you understand the disparities that you may see from place to place. 


            Q     Do you anticipate in, let's say, Arizona, New Mexico, receiving the most out-of-state National Guardsmen? 


            GEN. BLUM:  Yes, I do.  And I'll tell you why.  Arizona is the main effort.  Tucson and Yuma is the main problem area.  Beyond that, El Paso is the main problem area.  So the bulk of our forces will go to assisting the Border Patrol in Tucson, Yuma and El Paso. 


            Now, they are also the smaller National Guards.  They have smaller National Guards than California and Texas.  So in California and Texas, we will rely heavily -- more heavily on the duration force, people that don't rotate quite as often or don't rotate at all.  And in Arizona and New Mexico, because the National Guard -- the populations of those two states don't -- can't -- is not supported by a large National Guard -- they have a modest-size National Guard, roughly 7,000, it's not insignificant, but it's not 15(,000) or 20,000 like California and Texas -- we'll have to rely more heavily on rotational forces for Arizona and New Mexico. 


            The heaviest state that will receive the rotations from out of state will probably Arizona if they stay as the main effort over the two years.  If the effort shifts, then we'll shift the troops, obviously, to the task.  We're not going to just keep sticking with the plan because there's dynamics on that border, and we'll adjust to the requirements of the Customs and Border Patrol. 


            Does that make sense to you? 


            Q     And the first rotation will -- when do you anticipate that finishing up?  You referred to it as -- 


            GEN. BLUM:  It's continues.  It's refreshing all the time.  As I told you, you'll find -- if you go down to the border and interview National Guardsmen, you will find young men and women down there; some will tell you they're there for 30 days, some will tell you they're there for 90 days, some will tell you they're there for a year, some will tell you -- most in Arizona, probably after September time frame or August time frame, most of them will tell you they're there for 21 days.  The bulk of them will be 21 days. 


            Yes, sir. 


            STAFF:  We'll make this the last one. 


            Q     One of the long-standing concerns from the Justice Department, DA, others like that, is corruption on the Mexican side in terms of their border service and Border Patrol.  I'm wondering, in your experience, in the Guard's experience in the counternarcotics mission and in this mission thus far, to what degree does corruption of Mexican border service, as in police, foment the illegal immigration? 


            GEN. BLUM:  I'm not an expert to comment on that.  Corruption is not unique on the Mexican side of the border.  Corruption exists any time that the criminal elements can exploit a weakness in the border; hence the reason we want to get control of the border better than we have it right now.  The initiatives, Operation Jump Start, putting the Guard down there to assist Customs and Border Protection personnel, will help make the criminal element on both sides of the border much more difficult and will help get control of our border.  We're not -- again, remember, the mission isn't close the border.  The mission is help, assist, provide military capabilities that the Guard has and DOD has to assist the Customs and Border Protection Agency to get better control of the border.  We're not closing the border.  We still want legitimate people coming in to this country and leaving this country and letting commerce flow.  But there are some troublesome illegal activities on both sides of the border that I think will find this new arrangement very uncomfortable to try to operate in.  I think it would make their lives more difficult. 


            Q     General Blum? 


            GEN. BLUM:  Thank you.


















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