Very interesting and timely DoD Roundtable this morning! The border issues were at the forefront with the National Guard Bureau’s Director of Communications clearing up some issues about supporting the Department of Homeland Security in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Mr. Jack Harrison explained the current status of the Guard resources involved with the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). These agencies are attempting to slow the flow of illegal immigrants on the southwestern border and the 1,200 (total) National Guard “augmentees” will assist both federal agencies in this mission. They will not be conducting direct law enforcement activities according to Mr. Harrison.
The specific mission is to provide criminal analysis and identification teams for ICE and CBP. The Guard will remain in state status (not federalized) and will support their home state governors in that capacity. There will be no cross state guard units and each soldier or airman is receiving training as they incrementally build up the force that has been approved for service up to one year in length. So far 370 of the 1200 are in place and the training continues for follow on forces.
I asked him why this issue had become somewhat controversial and Mr. Harrison explained that he thought the press release on July 19th was not understood by the media or misinterpreted when it said the mission would begin August 1st. Some in the media thought that all the 1,200 folks would arrive on August 1st and did not understand the training involved (which is the reason for the incremental response). He vigorously explained that the Guard has not missed any deadlines during this mission. With the national and political focus on the illegal immigration and security issues in the Southwest and specifically the Arizona law controversy the Guard had become a hot topic for many who perceived that they were delaying the mission.
Currently, the National Guard, airmen and soldiers, are deployed around the globe in Iraq, Bosnia, the Sinai Desert, the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan and numerous other locations with about 55,000 folks. They also have 6,700 involved in domestic missions including the efforts in the Southwest border area. Quite an effort for our citizen soldiers and airmen! Thank you Mr. Harrison for taking the time to talk to the Roundtable this morning!
To listen to an audio or read a transcript of this interesting and front line news story please go to DoDLive! For more interesting information on the Guard and other military services around the globe please go to the MilitaryAvenue Reading Room!
Photo Credit: Jack Harrison, National Guard Bureau director of communications. Photo courtesy of National Guard Bureau. DoDLive