National Guard to remain on border through year's end
The 500 National Guard troops helping watch over Arizona's border with Mexico will stay on the job, after the Pentagon agreed to continue funding the 1,100 troopers assisting on the Southwest border
This is the second 90-day extension to the Guard's mission that has been authorized during the current deployment. The Guardsmen had been scheduled to end their support efforts on Sept. 30.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the extension of the operation on Thursday at the request of the Department of Homeland Security.
The extension was welcomed by Gov. Jan Brewer.
"The federal government shouldn’t contemplate pulling these troops until law enforcement officials who operate near the border indicate it has been sufficiently secured," she said in a statement.
"That said, today’s announcement is certainly an encouraging step. Until sufficient Border Patrol manpower is in place, the National Guard can complement a comprehensive border-security effort. I believe that should include additional airborne and other resources, as well as the completion of a substantial and well-maintained border fence," Brewer said.
There are 492 Guardsmen on the border in Arizona, 277 in Texas, 266 in California and 68 in New Mexico. The mission costs about $10 million monthly.
"I anxiously await further details of the President’s extension of the National Guard border mission, especially regarding how it will be funded. Any benefit from the National Guard would be significantly eroded if the mission is funded by diverting resources from any other active border security or counter-drug program," Brewer said Thursday.
Guardsmen have built fences and manned observation posts along the border since last year. Training for the mission began in August 2010, while full-scale operations started Oct. 1.
The original contingent of troopers in Arizona was announced as 560. The Guard began a draw-down on the border in mid-May, as the operation was originally scheduled to wrap up in June.
Under the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, troops under federal authority are not permitted to carry out direct law enforcement functions inside the United States.