Bush Praises Guard Support for Border Security Mission

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 2006 - President Bush praised the National Guard yesterday for its speedy response to the U.S. border security mission and pointed to solid signs of its success: the U.S. Border Patrol's seizure of 17,000 pounds of illegal drugs and apprehension of 2,500 illegal immigrants.

Bush traveled to McAllen, Texas, to get a first-hand look at progress in Operation Jump Start, the National Guard support mission he ordered in May.

At that time, the president pledged that up to 6,000 National Guard troops would be in place by Aug. 1 to bolster the Border Patrol while it recruits and trains more agents. The arrangement clearly identified the two organizations' missions: The Border Patrol would have law enforcement responsibilities, and the National Guard would man observation posts, build barriers and fences, act as translators, monitor sensors that detect illegal movement across the border, and conduct other activities not related to law enforcement.

The arrangement frees up Border Patrol agents who had been in support missions to move into law enforcement roles.

By Aug. 1, 6,199 National Guard soldiers and airmen had deployed to the four-state southwest border region. "Last May, I said we'll deploy up to 6,000 National Guard members to assist the Border Patrol, and I said we'd get it done by Aug. 1," the president said. "Well, we got it done by Aug. 1, and I want to thank those in the National Guard who have joined us."

Bush also thanked Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, for ensuring his pledge was fulfilled.

The president praised the support National Guard troops are providing to the Border Patrol under difficult conditions. "You've got a tough job, and the role of the federal government is to give you the tools necessary to do your job," he said.

"For those of you who have got a loved one in the United States military, you tell them the commander in chief is incredibly proud of the job they're doing to help secure this nation and bring peace to the world," Bush said. "We've got a fantastic military, and it's a military that will have the full support" of the nation.

Related Article:

Full transcript of President Bush's remarks []

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