Central Texas guardsmen await word on border deployment

In this photo taken April 19, 2011, National Guard troops and border patrol agents check on a Border Patrol Skybox near the Texas-Mexico border in Hidalgo, Texas. (AP Photo/Delcia Lopez)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The announcement to send the National Guard to the border will mean 1,000 members of the National Guard will have to put their life on hold.

All seemed quiet at Camp Swift and Camp Mabry on Monday from the outside, but Adjunct Gen. John Nichols indicated they are ready to work.

“We’re going to start immediate training to run them through any training drills we anticipate we might encounter in the field,” he said.

That training will be for your neighbor, your friend, or any number of people you may run into in Central Texas. Those in the National Guard wait for the call, and that call has come.

GOING IN-DEPTH // Texas National Guard

  • These new responsibilities for the Texas National Guard come as the U.S. Army plans big cuts on Guard units across the country.
  • The plan, which will take place in the 2015 budget, will also reduce the force from 358,000 troops to 335,000.
  • It also includes taking away 192 Apache helicopters from states and replacing them with fewer and older Blackhawks.
  • The move would cut the Texas Army National Guard by 24 percent. Texas Army National Guard commander Maj. Gen. William Smith questioned the move, saying the cuts will put a strain on recruiting, budgets and safety.

“We are your Texas brethren,” Nichols added. “We live next door to you. We work with you and in times of need we come to your aid.”

But the use of the National Guard evokes ideas of military force. Sen. Juan Hinojosa from the Rio Grande Valley says the National Guard is trained to “search and destroy,” while law enforcement “serves and protects.” And with young children involved, the difference could be huge.

Nichols says the National Guard will be at the border only in a supporting role.

“I want to make that very specific, we support DPS,” Nichols said. “We support civil authority.”

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