Guard Plans to Adjust Number of Troops Serving on U.S.-Mexican Border
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 10, 2007 The National Guard plans to adjust the number of personnel performing security duty along the U.S.-Mexican border from about 6,000 to about 3,000 members, a National Guard Bureau spokesman said today.
Last year, President Bush directed the National Guard to assist the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency in patrolling the 2,000-mile-long border with Mexico, National Guard Bureau spokesman Army Maj. David Kolarik told American Forces Press Service today during a phone interview from the bureau’s headquarters in Arlington, Va.
National Guard members “have performed superbly” in answering the President’s call to assist on the border during “Operation Jump Start,” Kolarik said. The Customs and Border Protection Agency is a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Almost 6,000 Guard members – mostly volunteers -- have been on border security duty in the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California in support of the U.S. Border Patrol since June 2006, Kolarik said, noting the reduction was part of original planning.
“It was never meant to be a permanent solution,” Kolarik said of the National Guard’s participation in Operation Jump Start. “It was just an intermediate measure to provide support for border security efforts until they brought the additional resources and personnel in line that they needed.”
The Guard redeployment is slated for completion around Sept. 1, he said.
About 3,000 National Guard members will continue assisting the Customs and Border Protection Agency along the U.S.-Mexican border, Kolarik said.
The National Guard’s presence along the U.S.-Mexican border has helped to bolster border-protection efforts to curtail illegal immigration as well as to circumvent narcotics traffic, Kolarik said.
Guard members on border duty do not perform law enforcement missions, but they do conduct surveillance and operate detection equipment, work with border entry identification teams, analyze information, assist with communications and give administrative support to the Border Patrol.
National Guard members “have done just a phenomenal job down there on the border,” Kolarik said.