National Guard troops from the states of Texas and Arizona will fortify the U.S. – Mexico border within 72 hours. The decision was made after President Donald Trump raised his concerns about the threat of drug trafficking and rising illegal immigration.
Texas said its National Guard would send an estimated 250 troops while Arizona confirmed at least 150 troops from their end to help secure the border. President Trump had earlier requested for a “thousand- strong” deployment.
Brigadier General Tracy Norris who commands the Texas National Guard disclosed that they had already sent two Lakota helicopters and plan to deploy additional equipment to the U.S. – Mexico border:
“The Texas National Guard is preparing to immediately deploy with supporting aircraft, vehicles and equipment to the Texas-Mexico border. The deployment has begun with the movement of equipment and troops today. Within 72 hours, the Texas military department will have 250 personnel along with ground surveillance vehicles as well as light and medium aviation platforms.”
A Department of Defense (DOD) memo read that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has issued an order for an estimated 4,000 National Guard troops to secure the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) southern border security mission through September 30, 2018.
Furthermore, the memo had an instruction that troops would not be allowed to undertake law enforcement work without the approval of Secretary Mattis. The troops would only be armed in situations where “self defense” became an option.
According to Sec. Mattis, the decision was deemed necessary after the DHS, under Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen received reports which identified security vulnerabilities that required the assistance of the National Guard:
“Together, the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense are committed to using every lever of power to support the men and women of law enforcement defending our nation’s sovereignty and protecting the American people. We will continue to work with the governors to deploy the necessary resources until our nation’s borders are secure.”
However, concerns on the cost of the deployment remain. The Pentagon was unsure where the funding for the deployment would come from.
The number of 4,000 troops, as suggested by President Trump, would be twice more than the number of troops in Syria and half of the military personnel stationed in Iraq.