AUSTIN, Tex. – National Guard troops have been deployed to the southern border of the US, and Texas has become the first state that did this. Move like this came following President Trump’s statement that the military will be sent there.
Total of 250 Texas National Guard personnel received orders to be deployed to the border according to the state officials. This was planned and executed within 72 hours as the mobilization started at about 7 p.m. Friday. Two light-utility Lakota helicopters with four service members take off from Armed Forces Reserve Center in Austin.
Here is what Tracy Norris, Brig. Gen. and commander of the Texas Army National Guard said about troops transfer, and their deployment to meet “the priorities of the governor and the president in securing our border.” This is not all as we did receive the statement that the Guard will also include ground surveillance vehicles and light and medium aircraft for their mission.
We could hear other governors giving support or criticizing the plan, and those are mostly dependent on the party of which they are members. The Republican governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, stated that approximately 150 National Guard members would be coming during the next week to the crucial parts of the borderline. Support also came from Susan Martinez, the Republican governor of New Mexico that agreed to deploy additional troops. On the other hand, the Democratic governor of Montana, Steve Bullock, opted against this move.
Another important thing happened on Friday, we could hear the news that Defense Secretary James N. Mattis signed orders for funding of 4,000 troops that will be under the “command and control of their respective governors.” This operation received a green light until Sept. 30, but it is unclear for how long it will last.
This isn’t the first time that the National Guard is engaged in similar operations and we could see both presidents and governors making similar moves. On top of that, it was done by members of both parties. After an Arizona rancher was killed in 2010, the Democratic governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, dispatched troops to the border.
For many local officials and lawmakers, this is slightly different situation since the mobilization that President Trump supports can ultimately bring thousands of service members to borders. As a result, we could see militarized communities that would give the impression that some of the cities are under siege. According to them, additional troops are not needed.
To support this claim, Representative Vicente Gonzalez, a Texas Democrat stated: “It sounds to me more like political rhetoric than something that is actually needed on our border. For example, McAllen is at a 32-year low in crime. We’re at a 46-year low in illegal entries. It’s the wildest thing in the world for us to hear that they want to bring National Guard troops to the border region.” McAllen is one of the border cities that is within his district.
Support for this plan came from President Trump and federal officials that emphasize the importance of the troop’s deployment to help the United States Border Patrol. As a result, it would be possible to reduce the growing threat of illegal immigration, crime and drug trafficking that are mostly coming from Central America.
At the moment it is hard to estimate the total cost of the mission as General Norris stated that it is “premature right now to know what the cost will be.” It is also added that the National Guard members would be armed for self-defense and “depending on the mission set.”
Financing of the operation is done by federal government, but the control remains in governor’s hands. This is allowed by a hybrid known as Title 32.
Initially, 250 troops will be dispatched, but the number can be changed, and according to Norris, it all depends on the situation in the field.
Immediate action from Texas officials doesn’t come as a surprise as we could hear many times over that the leaders would significantly increase military presence on the border. Republican leaders called for stricter control and further efforts to reduce cartel-related crime. Already for many years, we could hear their demands for National Guard deployment.
Prior to Mr. Trump announcement regarding mobilization, about 100 members of Texas National Guard was already engaged in border-security mission all the way from 2014. Total of 1,000 National Guard troops were deployed by Texas officials as a measure against drug cartels that used the situation where thousands of people were crossing the border.
#BREAKING: Texas National Guard prepares to deploy to Texas – Mexico border. Press conference tonight at 6:30 p.m. @ Armed Forces Reserve Center 5102 Emma Browning Ave, Austin, TX 78719. @CNN @FoxNews @CBSNews @ABC @MSNBC @KXAN_News @KVUE @SpecNewsATX @fox7austin
— Texas Military Dept (@TXMilitary) April 6, 2018
According to Rick Perry, then the governor, this move was done to “help combat the brutal Mexican drug cartels that are preying upon our communities.”
This mission was planned to last until the next year, but after Greg Abbott took over the office from Mr. Perry, he decided to extend it. The cost of this deployment, which has been calculated last year, has been estimated to be at almost $63 million.
Most of the state officials describe this mission and presence of 100 National Guard members as a “force multiplier.”
Travis Walters, Lt. Col. and a spokesman for Texas Military Department stated: “We stand ready to support the needs of the state and the nation at the request of the governor or the president.”
Source – nytimes.com