Up to 1,200 National Guard troops will deploy to the Southwest border with Mexico Aug. 1, the chief of the National Guard Bureau said in a joint announcement with Obama administration officials at the Pentagon.
“We’re very pleased to be in support of our interagency partners,” said Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley. The 1,200 troops will support Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
“We’ll make sure that all our Soldiers and Airmen are well-qualified, well-integrated and well-briefed on the mission,” McKinley said.
“We are pleased because along the Southwest border we have had an integration effort of counter-narcotics for over two decades, with 300 of our National Guard men and women already working with our interagency partners,” he said, referring to the National Guard’s Counterdrug Program.
The National Guard Counterdrug Program supports local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, community-based organizations and combatant commanders in the fight against illicit drugs and transnational threats to the homeland, Guard officials said.
“The National Guard is there to support the efforts of law enforcement, not to have a direct law enforcement role,” said Alan Bersin, commissioner of customs and border protection. “The National Guard has done that extremely well in the past, and we trust they’ll do so again on this occasion.”
The cost of the deployment is to be split equally between the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security.
The largest number of troops, 524, is slated to deploy in Arizona. Meanwhile, an estimated 250 will deploy in Texas, 224 in California and 72 in New Mexico. Additional troops from these states will also serve in command and control or support positions.
The deployment is expected to peak in October and in June, 2011, when the Border Patrol anticipates hiring an additional 1,000 agents.
The majority of the Guard members will support the Border Patrol with entry identification teams and support ICE with criminal investigative analysts, defense officials said.
The criminal investigative analysts will assist ICE agents in reducing the flow of illegal bulk currency and weapons from the United States to Mexico.
The National Guard members are expected to be volunteers and McKinley said no overseas deployments are affected.