Volunteer National Guardsmen Will Carry Guns At Texas Border

AUSTIN -- The Texas National Guard has new marching orders on the Texas-Mexico border.

Governor Perry's announcement to deploy a thousand troops to the Rio Grande Valley brings up some questions.

The Texas National Guard will ask for volunteers to head to the Rio Grande Valley. The plan is to have the first round in place in the next two and a half weeks, with forces of up to a 1,000 on the border for up to a year.

Major General John Nichols hopes to have the 1,000 trained soldiers in place in the next 45 days, and confirmed they will be armed with standard military weapons.

"We don't feel like this is militarization. This is the national guard coming in and helping Texas in a time of need and we're supporting DPS," said Major Gen. Nichols.

The soldiers will man observation posts, so DPS troopers can be on the ground enforcing the law.

The Rio Grande Valley border patrol and DPs cover 320 miles along the Rio Grande bordering Mexico, something intelligence experts say is a massive undertaking.

"When you look at this from a standpoint of securing the border, it really boils down to a logistics and resource problem when you look at the sheer size of border Texas shares with Mexico," said Fred Burton, vice president of intelligence for Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence firm.

The typical deployment for a guardsmen is 2 to 3 weeks, but this mission could take up to a year.

That means a rotation of the soldiers, which in turn means more time, money and manpower dedicated to training.

If the mission lasts a year, it'll cost the state an estimated $144 million or more.

Major General Nichols will not lead the troops from the Valley, but a commander for the mission has not been named.


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