Texas Tribune by Julian Aguilar
When the Obama administration announced in December that it would draw down the number of National Guard units that patrol the southern border, critics said the decision would leave Texas vulnerable to spillover violence from Mexico.
The administration, which last month reduced the number of guard troops on the border from 1,200 to about 300, defended the move as a step toward better efficiency. The mission of the guardsmen was shifted from ground surveillance and assisting the U.S. Border Patrol to primarily aerial surveillance efforts.
But as the debate on how to best secure the border with Mexico continues, a new government report says that the use of National Guard troops on the border can hinder recruitment efforts and pose a challenge to long-term border security planning.
The report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, also says that the presence of active duty guards on the border may lead to the perception that the border is militarized, which could hinder binational agreements between the U.S. and Mexico aimed at fighting organized crime on the border.
Officials also cited benefits associated with the effort, including filling in personnel gaps until potential Border Patrol agents were trained and deployed, and providing necessary training for military personnel in an environment similar to those they would see in combat and helping to build relationships with other law enforcement agencies.