Saturday, September 18, 2021
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Click here for more about the drug war in Mexico.
According to a June 29, 2009 AP release ("Guard to Seek Volunteers for Border"), "The Obama administration is developing plans to seek up to 1,500 National Guard volunteers to step up the military's counter-drug efforts along the Mexican border." The "largely federally funded" effort will reportedly "last no longer than a year and would build on an existing counter-drug operation," which has been dubbed "Operation Jump Start" and currently "involves about 575 Guard members." According to the AP report, "the program would mainly seek out guard members for surveillance, intelligence analysis and aviation support. Guard units would also supply ground troops who could assist at border crossings and with land and air transportation."
Officials cite escalating drug (as well as "cash and arms") trafficking-related violence as the primary reason for the potential up-tick in National Guard volunteers patrolling the border. AP reports, paraphrasing under secretary for national protection at the Homeland Security Department Rand Beers, that "The White House came to the decision that it is simply not enough for the United States to provide funding in support of the Mexican government's counter-drug efforts."
However, not all administration officials are reportedly enthused by the proposed operation. The Christian Science Monitor ("Obama Could Send 1,500 National Guard Troops to Mexican Border") reports that the plan, which was still being hashed out as of July 1, could carry a price tag of about $250 million, and officials are unable to say with certainty how long the program might actually last. Beers declined to provide AP with an exact timeline, saying "only that it would not be lengthy." Moreover, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has, AP states, "expressed concern that tapping the military for border control posts is a slipperly slope and must not be overused." Additionally, the Christian Science Monitor claims that "many are questioning the wisdom of [...] sending the National Guard, saying it risks further involving the military in domestic security, stretching the military too thin, and inflaming an already caustic national debate on immigration."