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Talks continue to define role of National Guard in border planBy STERRY BUTCHERPRESIDIO COUNTY – Discussion continues this week on how the National Guard will help the Border Patrol secure the U.S.-Mexico frontier, though specifics have not yet been finalized.“We do have a liaison officer on site from the National Guard, an advance party, who is looking at things, coordinating with our people and trying to get ready,” said Marfa Sector Public Affairs Officer Bill Brooks. “We don’t know how many, their specialty or what their jobs will be, but we’ll be ready for them when they get here.”The troops are a part of a border security plan outlined in May by President George W. Bush. As many as 6,000 National Guard troops may be eventually deployed in a support role with the Border Patrol. The supplement of troops will beef up a frontier presence while the Border Patrol undergoes a campaign to boost recruitment and training. There’s no word on when troops might be sent to the Marfa Sector, though last week Gov. Rick Perry did sign a memorandum of understanding that will allow troop deployment in the state. Col. Bill Meehan of the Texas National Guard has said that 150 planners have been strategizing troop locations and duties. Meehan said the soldiers aren’t expected in El Paso until at least July, and added that 2,300 troops will head to their frontier posts all along the U.S.-Mexico border by August. “El Paso is a focus sector in terms of our national strategy,” explained Brooks, “so they’re likely to get people before we would.”Brooks has been told that the National Guard troops are “self contained,” which may indicate that they sleep in tents or temporary quarters that they maintain. Border Patrol and National Guard officials have repeatedly made one thing certain: the Border Patrol is the lead agency in the collaboration with the National Guard, whose mission has been dubbed Operation Jump Start. “We know they’re coming in a support role,” said Brooks. “We will maintain our law enforcement presence. We appreciate their support and we’re looking forward to when they’re getting here.”
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