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The Border: Obama Administration Could Deploy Up to 1,500 National Guard Troops in Bid to Increase Anti-Drug Efforts

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #592)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

The Obama administration is developing plans to deploy up to 1,500 National Guard troops along the southwestern border in an effort to step up the US military's anti-drug efforts there, the Associated Press reported, citing administration sources. Some 575 National Guard troops are already deployed there to support border law enforcement in a program that has been ongoing for years.

Esequiel Hernandez was killed by US Marines near the Texas border, while herding sheep. Are there more such victims to come?
The plan is being worked out between the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security. It comes despite Pentagon concerns about militarizing the border and stretching its resources too thinly.

Administration officials said the program was a stopgap measure designed to last for only a year until civilian law enforcement could be beefed up. The administration has already announced plans to hire 1,500 additional border agents. The National Guard program would be federally funded and would draw on National Guard volunteers from the four states that border Mexico: California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Guard duties would include surveillance, intelligence analysis, and aviation support, but would not include direct law enforcement duties.

"We have been working very closely to build a set of options that would have the Department of Defense in a very limited way, for a limited period of time, serve in direct support for CBP," said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Paul Stockton, referring to Customs and Border Protection.

The move comes just months after President Obama vowed to Mexican President Felipe Calderón that the US would help Mexico confront escalating prohibition-related violence, in which nearly 11,000 people have been killed since Calderón unleashed the Mexican military against the country's powerful drug trafficking organizations in December 2006. It also comes just three weeks after Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced a new southwest border counternarcotics strategy that will devote more federal resources to fighting the Mexican drug trafficking groups.

Undersecretary of National Protection at Homeland Security Rand Beers told the AP the administration has proposed spending $250 million on the program, but that the precise cost will not be known until all the details are worked out.

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HeinekenPete (not verified)

Deploying National Guard and our military permanently along the Mexican border makes perfect sense. Units could be rotated in for a month at a time to patrol and provide surveillance, (in support of the Boarder Patrol), while learning to operate in a desert environment--something WE the taxpayer are ALREADY paying for! Yeah, it's a sad story about the poor sheep herder being killed. But an occasional casualty is the price we all must accept if we are to defend our country in this war against violent, multi-billion dollar drug gangs.

Fri, 07/03/2009 - 12:01pm Permalink
KeLeMi (not verified)

In reply to by HeinekenPete (not verified)

SOunds good. And while we're at it, let's invade Iran, North Korea, Sudan and any other country whose government we don't like. We need to take our "World Cop" duties seriously. Damn the costs.

Wed, 07/08/2009 - 3:18pm Permalink
Rusty (not verified)

Prohibition is responsible for this endless war and it will continue as long as drugs are illegal. The only way to end the violence is to legalize all drugs and just wait for the cartels to run out of bullets: then it's over. Using the military to enforce civilian laws is a very dangerous move. How long will it be before they start using the unmanned drones with infrared cameras to catch marijuana smokers lighting up in the "privacy" of their homes. Remember, they're not waging war on drugs......they're waging war on us.

Fri, 07/03/2009 - 2:49pm Permalink
HeinekenPete (not verified)

Yes, I agree that legalizing drugs would take out the profits from drug gang operations. But here it is, 2009, and we still live in a country where even TALKING about growing HEMP as a cash crop raises cries of a Reefer Madness Armageddon. Long before the general public will ever accept legalization, they need to accept & vote for DECRIMINALIZATION of cannabis for personal use. Decriminalize the cultivation of a limited number of plants per household, and 90% of the black market along with it's associated crime would dry up.
Remember, these drugs gangs have murdered 11,000 people since 2006 and it's all because of the vast profits involved. Take away the profits that our Prohibitionist-based policies drive up through decriminalization, and you'll undermine the criminal element.
Until then, (limited) support of Border Security from our armed forces (in the form of surveillance & observation, as opposed to armed intervention) is a pragmatic solution.

Sat, 07/04/2009 - 11:07pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In 2003, just before former President Bush started the war in Iraq, I received an email from someone stating that 50,000 civilian border patrol agents could be hired and trained at a cost of $5 billion dollars a year. This would have done more for our border security in the USA and would have been a lot less money than going to war, alleged to protect out borders, while making us more vulnerable in the long run.
We do not need the military taking over our border control or enforcement. The now gutted Posse Comitatus Act prohibited the use of the military for good reason. Full legalization is the only answer, no money for their drugs, no money for guns and explosives. Let the free market rule, not the criminal market!!
Back before Unions were formed, a local mine owner and the governor of some state out West used local militia or national guard troops to murder men, women and children who were striking for better working conditions and better pay. So, no we don't need the U. S. military that President Eisenhower warned us about, the Military Industrial Complex.
I suspect if the person killed would have been a white person or even black and was shot by Mexican authorities, all hell would have broke loose. H.Pete might not have so flippantly listed him as a occasional casualty, if it had been his son, nephew, brother, uncle, dad or cousin or friend. People trying to illegally cross into the USA go under bridges and fences, over them or through them. 50,000 border patrol agents would do more for the safety of our border and the Mexican or Canadian borders than putting the military in charge of our civilian law enforcement.

Tue, 07/07/2009 - 6:55pm Permalink
one voice (not verified)

What you might not know is that National Guard Troops have been doing border details for a long time serving in many different rolls. Form patrolling, border check points, checking cargo, ect..

This move is just stepping up there duties and just maybe it will help are already over taxed Law Enforcement Officer make it just a little safer.

Tue, 07/06/2010 - 3:00am Permalink

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