National Guard deploys troops to Texas-Mexico border

CAMP SWIFT, Texas (KXAN) — National Guard troops taking part in Operation Strong Safety are now on the Texas-Mexico border.

Maj. Gen. John Nichols, adjutant general of Texas Military Forces, would not say how many troops had been deployed, but did say 700 were still waiting at Camp Swift. Gov. Rick Perry’s plan called for up to 1,000 troops to be moved to the border.

Another round of guardsmen are expected to make their way south within the next four days.

“We’re all going to be there very shortly,” Nichols said. “If everyone shows up at once then you have too many people doing things.”

The National Guard was given 30 days from Perry’s July 21 announcement to get troops ready and deployed to the border, guard spokesperson Lt. Col. Joanne MacCregor said last week.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst spent time at Camp Swift on Monday talking to those troops who have volunteered; thanking them one by one. “People in Texas are concerned about the border,” Dewhurst said, “not just illegal immigration, but drugs coming in, human trafficking.”

“We got a big border,” Nichols added, “we’re going to be pursuing them every time they cross.”

Earlier this month, several dozen soldiers moved into the Rio Grande Valley as part of the state’s Joint Counterdrug Task Force. They were not part of the up to 1,000 troops called up by Perry. The soldiers are specifically trained to man such observation towers in the area belonging to local law enforcement agencies and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Texas National Guard Master Sgt. Ken Walker of the Joint Counterdrug Task Force said Thursday. They will serve as extra eyes on the border and report suspicious activity to authorities.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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