By Glenn Spencer, American Border Patrol
August 16, 2006

The presence of the National Guard on the border is a positive step. They are performing important functions, including road repair and barrier and wall construction, monitoring cameras and manning observation posts. Some guardsmen are repairing vehicles. Questions remain, however, as to the number of guard personnel who are actually working the border and how many agents they have freed up.

American Border Patrol attended a House Armed Services Committee hearing on August 2 at which Lt. General Blum reported that fully 6200 National Guard were working with the Border Patrol. Yet, in the period from August 2 to August 7, ABP could find no more than about 200 persons who might be National Guard working the border between Yuma, Arizona and 40 miles east of El Paso, Texas. This included persons working on road repair and vehicle barriers and walls and manning observation posts.

Many guardsmen are assigned to administration and some were still in training as of August 2. Assuming that only 3,250 (half) are working directly on the border, one would expect to see more than 200 working the Arizona/New Mexico border.

Through its direct observations ABP has seen the guardsmen performing important functions. Road repair and barrier and wall construction are vital to enforcement. One would expect more of this work being done, however.

ABP has learned that National Guard observation posts are doing a fairly good job. They assist in spotting illegal aliens and guiding PAs (Patrol Agents) to them. This function is hindered, however, by the lack of a good GPS ground navigation and guidance system. There is also a question as to how many agents are being freed up.

Border Patrol officials have reported "that the soldiers, whether in an office, or on a hilltop, have freed more than 250 agents for regular patrolling..."

Many Border Patrol Agents are assigned to stay with National Guard Units working on the border. The Border Patrol calls it "force protection." The Border Patrol union in Tucson estimates that ten percent of agents in the Naco and Douglas stations are thus occupied.

Some question why this is necessary.

The National Guard is under orders not to confront or detain illegal aliens. They are to report them to the Border Patrol. Yet, American Border Patrol has photos of National Guard observer posts "chaperoned" by the Border Patrol. For example, two National Guard observers were accompanied by a Border Patrol Agent as they manned a lookout post in the Huachuca Mountains. Similar situations were observed in Yuma, Arizona, and Naco, Arizona.

In addition, Border Patrol Agents could be seen parked near Guard units working on roads and walls on the border near Nogales, Naco, and Douglas, Arizona.

What are these agents doing? Some say they stay with the National Guard to protect them from attacks by illegal aliens.

The likelihood of an attack by illegal aliens on border construction workers is remote at best. This is especially true during daylight hours where there are active Border Patrol cameras. Illegal aliens don't cross the border where there are bunch of people working. Moreover, ABP has seen many private contractors working on border construction projects without Border Patrol protection.

Guardsmen who are manning remote observation posts away from the border are not vulnerable at all. So why are they given "force protection"?

In the past, volunteer Minutemen set up observation posts along the border just like the National Guard - with no problems. National Guard personnel are trained to follow orders. Why would they be more of a risk than ordinary citizen volunteers?

Guarding trained military personnel who are at not risk, makes no sense whatsoever.

The top priority of the federal government is the safety of migrants. Is the real purpose of "force protection" is to protect the illegal aliens from the National Guard? Does Border Patrol management not trust the National Guard? Are they afraid they will not follow orders and come into contact with illegal aliens?

There may be another risk element here. National Guard personnel have not had the "training" (read indoctrination) into the culture of border enforcement. It may be that Border Patrol management is staying close to the National Guard to make sure they understand border enforcement culture, i.e., Stay away from high-tech gear such as GPS and protect the aliens at all cost.

So far Guard personnel are doing a good job. Time will tell if management will let them continue, or whether they will figure out some way of undermining their effort.

Glenn Spencer

American Border Patrol