National Guard troops expected to be at border soon

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Troops will start to show up along the Texas-Mexico border soon since its window to train and deploy troops is coming to an end.

The National Guard was given 30 days from Gov. Rick Perry’s July 21 announcement to get troops ready and deployed to the border, said guard spokesperson Lt. Col. Joanne MacCregor. The mission is part of Operation Strong Safety which is to help the Texas Department of Public Safety patrol the border from the thousands of people crossing into the U.S. illegally.

MacCregor said there are numerous logistics involved with coordinating an operation before they can send troops to the border. The National Guard received funds to mobilize soldiers, MacCregor said, and get them trained. More information about the mission is expected in the next couple of days.

Ray Linder, National Guard Association of Texas Executive Director, spoke with KXAN to give insight on how missions usually work.  He said things can happen at a snap of a finger, but it doesn’t necessarily have to.

“It’s one thing to put people on the border, but we don’t want them living in tents, so we have to find lodging  and all the logistics support has got to be figured out before the troops arrive there,” said Ray Linder,

He said this is different from previous deployments because it’s not federally funded.  The state is footing the $12 million a month bill for now.  Gov. Perry has said multiple times that Washington should pick up the tab.

The Texas Comptroller’s offices said $38 million was appropriated to fund the troops on August 1st from the the Emergency Radio Infrastructure fund in the state’s budget.  A spokesperson for the comptroller’s office said money can be used from that fund for public safety purposes.

Last week the Associated Press reported that several troops had already been deployed to the border. There are National Guard troops there, but they are part of a federal operation with the Joint Counterdrug Task Force. Master Sgt. Ken Walker, with the National Guard who oversees the program, said troops are helping law enforcement in Hidalgo and Pharr counties oversee the border and that it has nothing to do with Operation Strong Safety.

MacCregor said up to 1,000 troops headed to the border have already been notified and are training at Camp Swift.

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