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Radio Interview with Lt. Gen. Vaughn on Janet Parshall's America

Presenter: Lt. Gen. Clyde A. Vaughn
May 18, 2006 2:05 PM EDT

            MS. PARSHALL:  I'm Janet Parshall, broadcasting from the nation's capital.  I thank you so much for joining us.

 

            That is the President the day after he addressed the nation and announced that 6,000 members of the National Guard will be offering their support to the Border Patrol.  Today the President landed in Yuma, Arizona.  Some consider it may be one of the most porous border towns in the nation.  While he's there he'll participate in a briefing on the Border Patrol, and he'll also offer some remarks on border security and immigration reform.

 

            But a lot of people are saying, what is the responsibility of the National Guard?  Will it be strictly logistical?  If they are not allowed to participate in law enforcement, how will that deal with the question of the porosity of our borders?

 

            When in doubt, always go to the experts.  And in this case it happens to be the gentleman who is the director of the Army National Guard, Lieutenant General Clyde Vaughn.  General Clyde Vaughn, we thank you so much for joining us today.

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  Thank you, Jan.  It's really a pleasure to be here with you.

 

            Q     Thank you.  So obviously this is probably a question a lot of people are asking.  We understand that there will be a supportive capacity for the Guard, but if they're not involved in law enforcement -- and we're dealing with thousands and thousands and thousands people who come across the border illegally -- what will be the job of the Guard?

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  Well, the job of the Guard is to take on engineering, surveillance and reconnaissance.  We'll take on training missions, logistics, C2, a wide variety of activities.  And of course, the mission set will enable the Border Patrol to put more qualified border agents right up on the border.

 

            Q     Excellent.  Here's something that I heard, and maybe you can clarify this for me.  I understand that now, when we have some of the Border Patrol agents who are actually repairing fences or they're doing some of the other important work that has to be done, that does take them away from the task of law enforcement; that, in fact, with the Guard coming alongside now, if they end up doing some of those other jobs like the fence work and some of the paperwork that has to be done, that in fact what that does is that tends to let the agent free, then, to be involved in the law enforcement task to which he's primarily called.

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  That's exactly right.  And we've had -- we've had this relationship for a long time with the Border Patrol, and we've done this not in the same numbers that we're talking about doing it now, but we've got a history of providing this kind of support to them.

 

            Q     General, I know there are so many people listening who are proud of our men and women in uniform, particularly proud of our Guard.  Many of the people listening are in or have been in the Guard.  Let me go to the question that has been raised by the president of Mexico.  He thinks that somehow getting the Guard along the border will be the militarization of the border.  Why will that not be the case?

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  Well, I don't think it will be.  We're -- again, we're not going to be up on the border and we're not going to be one on one.  We're not going to take place in -- or we're not going to take on the law enforcement activities.  And so I don't think it will be.  Our soldiers are very compassionate and understanding, have had the same lifestyles that everybody around the United States and the communities do, and understand.  And so I think that, from a compassionate point of view and from work experiences and from a military side of this thing, they're going to take on the engineering missions, they're going to take on the support missions of the Border Patrol to free them up.  I don't see it was militarization at all.

 

            Q     I don't, either.  And I also understand that one of the capacity of the Guard will be to offer some training, particularly in areas like intelligence.

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  Well, there are some pieces there, and we'll have to work that out.  We don't have real good fidelity yet on the mission sets, but obviously the Border Patrol runs a rather extensive training operation.  And if you're talking about ranges and things of that sort, we do that on a daily basis.  And so every place that we can replace a border agent, we as a country are that much better off.

 

            Q     General, last night the Senate passed an amendment to the immigration reform bill that will allow the building of a 375-mile triple-layered fence.  Will the Guard be used in the construction of that fence?

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  Well, it would be conjecture on my part.  We have built a lot of fence down there over the years.  You know, we've got a history that goes back over 20 years doing this, and we've put a task force in California several years ago and did exactly that.  So I'm looking at that and I don't know if that's the mission set that we'll be given or not, but I would anticipate that we could be building roads and potentially fences also.

 

            Q     Exactly.  General, it's -- I don't know; maybe for some people, they think it's rocket science, but from where I come from just as a common man, it seems to me that if the issue is security -- and that is primarily why all of this conversation is taking place about the border -- that if the Guard is down there helping with the fence, offering with intelligence, doing the logistical support that needs to be done, that's as tied back into security as somebody walking around the border with a sidearm.

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  It is, and there's also a training aspect of that for the Army National Guard. We're a magnificently trained force, but we're always looking for the right places to do our training.  And as long as there's a parallel match here, this is a win-win for everybody.

 

            Q     Absolutely.  General, we are so proud of our men and women in uniform.  And we thank you, sir, for your service and for your guidance and direction with the Army National Guard.

 

            Lieutenant General Clyde Vaughn is the director of the Army National Guard.  This is a man, by the way, who oversees a force of 350,000 soldiers in 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia.  My thanks to the general.

 

            We'll be right back.

 

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