Following are highlights of a joint press conference today on U.S. border security with Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol David Aguilar, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Security Paul McHale, Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum and Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Julie Myers.
; President Bush addressed the nation on May 15 about the need for comprehensive immigration reform.
Part of the president’s plan focuses on securing our nation’s border. To help with this, the president
proposed deploying up to 6,000 National Guard forces along the southwest border.
; The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the lead agency for maintaining the integrity our
country’s international borders. Guard forces will be in support of DHS. They will be an important, but
temporary, bridge to improve civilian security capabilities. The support Guard forces provide to the
Border Patrol will be a tremendous force multiplier.
; Guard forces will be under the control of the governor in whose state they are operating.
; The initial commitment will be for up to 6,000 military forces on a rotational basis for a period of up to 12
months. Military support won’t exceed 3,000 personnel during a possible second year of deployment.
The process is expected to begin in June.
; Law enforcement along the border will remain a civilian function. DoD will not play a role in the direct
apprehension, custodial care or security of those detained by civilian law enforcement.
; Missions will include surveillance and reconnaissance, engineering support, transportation support,
logistics support, medical support, linguistics support, and barrier and infrastructure construction and
; The missions will be directly related to military skills National Guard soldiers and airmen use in
warfighting and disaster response, and will be similar to the annual training missions executed as part
of the counter-drug program along the border for the past 20 years. The difference is a greater force
size and more resources.
; The citizen-soldiers of the National Guard are trained, ready and able to execute this mission. It will not
come at the expense of progress in the war on terror, or take away from the Guard’s ability to respond
to natural disasters. The Guard has more troops available, more equipment and more experience this
year than last year. To the extent possible, troops will come from the four states along the border.
; Guard forces already have to do their annual training where they focus on their military specialty. Now,
instead of performing annual training to practice skills in the wilderness, forces will be put in operational
use on the border.
; While the medic or bulldozer operator may change out every few weeks, the leadership will be in place
for duration of the operation, in order to provide the needed continuity.
; DoD will seek reimbursement for costs from the appropriate agency partner.
Links: American Forces Press Service story and links