Sure enough that’s what a Texas National Guard Spokesman told the AP about plans to militarize the border with Mexico. But you have to read all the way to the bottom of the inverted pyramid to find the quote. Note also how volunteering for border service may keep a guardsman out of Iraq or Afghanistan:
Posted on Wed, Jun. 07, 2006
National Guard troops to be in place on Texas border by Aug. 1
DALLAS – Most Texas National Guard troops should be in place along the border by Aug. 1, and officers are already assembling around Austin to build up that force, officials said Wednesday.
Texas Guard spokesman Col. Bill Meehan said preparations for deployment began immediately after Gov. Rick Perry signed the order last week authorizing up to 2,300 troops at the border.
“Between today and the first of August, we will be bringing on, training and deploying them to their jobs,” Meehan said. He said 150 planners, logisticians and leaders were already being assembled in the Austin area to work out specifics for bringing in more troops in the coming weeks.
But Meehan said the “action-packed month will be July,” when the bulk of soldiers would be arriving for training and placement next month.
Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt said the governor hoped to see troops move in quickly and efficiently.
“He’s been encouraging Washington to take action to provide more security along the border,” spokeswoman Kathy Walt said.
President Bush on May 15 said that up to 6,000 National Guard troops would be sent to the Texas-Mexico border for about two years to help local and federal law enforcement stem the flow of illegal immigration.
“The governor would like to move the process along as quickly as possible, but we also recognize that there are details that have to be developed with the Border Patrol before the troops can be on the ground.”
Meehan said the Guard and the Border Patrol had to work out exactly where the troops would train and be stationed.
Guard officials already put out a call for volunteers across the state for a long-term border commitment, and the response should be tabulated within the next few days, Meehan said.
Members of a Guard unit based in Weslaco had just returned from Afghanistan, but several had already volunteered for the border duty.
But, Meehan said, if enough volunteers don’t materialize, the Guard will assign units to do their two- to three-week training on the border.
He said volunteering for border duty would likely discount troops from being deployed overseas.
“Once they’re tasked on this mission, they’re on this mission,” Meehan said. But he added that officials “have seen no indication that anyone would want to do this mission to get out of a combat service mission.”
Officials plan to build up the state’s border force with Texas Guard members but could turn to other states to fill specific needs, Meehan said.
“Our expectation is first we will fill these tasks with Lone Star State soldiers,” Meehan said.
Meehan said Texas’ border plan should not be compared to Arizona and New Mexico, where National Guard troops have already arrived at the Mexican border.
“We think this is a long-term mission, so it requires detailed planning with your partners.”
Officials have said that National Guard troops will serve in support capacities along the border, constructing fences, installing vehicle barriers, running surveillance systems and analyzing intelligence with the goal of freeing up more Border Patrol agents to actively stop illegal border crossings.