BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — While getting a look at the equipment and strategy to be used at the border, Gov. Rick Perry thanked and lauded Texas National Guardsmen while continuing to criticize the federal government. Perry said 2,200 volunteers answered the call for 1,000 troops to protect not just Texans, but the entire country.
“You are now the tip of the spear protecting Americans from cartels and gangs,” Perry said at Camp Swift before nearly 100 members of the Texas National Guard. Perry described the cartels as “narcoterrorists” and said people around the country have praised the Texas National Guard for their efforts.
During his visit to the post in Bastrop, Perry met with Guard leaders and was given a hands-on look at enhanced optics technology which will be used to assist observation operations at the Texas-Mexico border. Operation Strong Safety will send the Texas National Guard to assist Border Patrol and local authorities at the border.
“Your mission is very clear; to be that visible presence, to deter the criminal activity,” Perry told troops.
Because the amount of volunteers exceeded the 1,000 needed for the mission, the Texas National Guard said they would rotate deployments. Perry called the operations a stop-gap until the Federal Government gets involved with securing the border.
“Washington’s continual neglect of our southern border is letting some very aggressive criminals use that border to penetrate into our state,” said Perry. “What is at stake are the lives of innocent people on both sides of the border.”
Perry faced questions from media members about the cost of the operation and pointed to the recent Department of Public Safety border surge as a sign the stepped up efforts are worth the cost. The amount of reported detainments has fallen in recent weeks.
“We are going to support (the Guard) monetarily, we are going to do what we need to do as a state and people to fund (the operation,)” the governor said about the mission estimated to cost $12 million a month. Perry said he hopes the Federal Government will reimburse the State of Texas for securing the border, something he believes is the fed’s constitutional duty.
The Texas National Guard will not reveal when the deployments will take place to make sure the operation’s details remain secure.