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Dupnik: Bring surplus military gear to border

Equipment from war in Iraq can help fight war on border, sheriff says

PHOENIX – Military equipment left over from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could help bolster security in Arizona and other border states, Pima County’s sheriff said.

“We’re in a war on the border and they were in a war in Iraq, so they use a lot of equipment that’s beneficial to us,” Clarence Dupnik said.

Dupnik was among 16 law enforcement officials from border states who signed a letter circulated by two Texas congressmen asking U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta what surplus gear may be available.

The Department of Defense is authorized by law to transfer excess equipment to federal, state and local agencies. But Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Laredo, Texas, said he helped organize the letter because a surplus of equipment may be available and to draw attention to border security.

“We’re saying, ‘Hey, there is a big need, everybody’s been talking about a big need on the border so let’s put the equipment down there,’” Cuellar said.

He noted that local and state law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Border Patrol, National Guard troops and even fire departments are eligible for the program.

Rep. Ted Poe, a Republican from Houston, also helped organize the letter, which asks Panetta whether surplus equipment is offered to other countries before it’s available to local agencies and whether the gear is stored in the U.S. or abroad.

Fourteen sheriffs from Texas signed the letter, as did one from New Mexico.

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Dupnik, the only Arizona sheriff to sign, said agencies serving the border region would benefit from Humvees to cross difficult terrain, sophisticated communication gear and night–vision goggles, for example.

“It’d give us the ability to do our job in a more effective fashion,” he said.

The fact that he was the only Arizonan among the signatories doesn’t mean that others don’t support he idea, Dupnik said.

“I think all the sheriffs probably favor it,” he said.

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Click image to enlarge

Master Chief Travis K. Mendoza/U.S. Navy

Night-vision goggles.

The requests

  • The current status of military equipment returning from Iraq.
  • The status of and long-term plans for equipment not bound for Afghanistan.
  • Whether a catalog of equipment is available.
  • Whether the Department of Defense makes equipment available to foreign militaries before agencies in U.S.