WTF: Guardsmen Can Patrol The US Border But Can’t Look Across It?!

The New Mexico Army National Guard Liaison Team visited the U.S. Border Patrol El Paso Sector to meet and coordinate preparations for their upcoming deployment in support of border security operations April 7, 2018.
Photo by U.S. Border Patrol Agent Marcus Trujillo

The National Guard troops standing watch along the United States’ southwest border may find themselves curious to know what great mysteries lay beyond the muddy waters of the Rio Grande... but alas, federal law forbids them from using their state-of-the-art surveillance equipment to find out.

While the roughly 800 guardsmen holding the line in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona are permitted to use their naked eyes to peer across the divide, the legal basis for President Donald Trump’s National Guard deployment prohibits the troops from peeping southward through a pair of binoculars — or any other piece of technology that makes things appear closer than they actually are.

Trump mobilized the National Guard in April to help staunch what the president termed a “drastic surge of illegal activity on the southern border.” Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis authorized Title 32 duty status to deploy (and pay for) as many as 4,000 National Guard personnel in support of the Department of Homeland Security.

“Always Ready, Always There! Moving up to 500 #NationalGuard troops immediately on the SW border security mission,” tweeted Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, in response to Trump’s order. “Vehicles, equipment & helicopters on the way tonight.”

Upon their arrival at the border, the National Guard jumped into action, providing helicopter support to Border Patrol agents, paving roads, performing vehicle maintenance, and monitoring surveillance footage for suspicious activity north of the border.

“The troops stood on rocky, muddy cliffs on the river’s edge, peering through binoculars and focusing most of their attention on the banks and the brush on the American side,” a reporter with The New York Times wrote of a recent visit to a National Guard observation post in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. Rulebreaker!

They say curiosity killed the cat. In this case, it could earn a soldier a letter of reprimand. Title 32 provides that the National Guard can operate “up to” the United States-Mexico border, but that’s it. No peeking across! “We are not doing foreign intelligence collection on the border,” Col. Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, explained to the Times.

In addition to the surveillance restrictions, the troops are also prohibited from apprehending people or having any physical contact with migrants. Those duties are left to the Border Patrol, which is not shackled by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the post-Civil War statute that limits military involvement in civilian law enforcement.

National Guard and Border Patrol officials describe the mobilization as a “force multiplier” and are already hailing it a success. Officials say the troops have helped arrest more than 1,600 illegal border-crossers and assisted in the confiscation of more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana. That’s a whole lot of grass.

But not everybody is so impressed.

Representative Vicente Gonzalez, a Texas Democrat, said in an interview with The New York Times that he thinks the money being spent on the National Guard mission should instead be used to hire more Border Patrol agents — in part because the citizen-soldiers are so constrained in what they can actually, legally, do out there.

“They have their hands tied,” Gonzalez said. “This is not what the National Guard Was designed for.”

Seven of the twelve Soldiers participating in the Army National Guard Military Funeral Honors Level 2 course at Fort Indiantown Gap practice folding the flag April 25. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Zane Craig)

Retired Army Master Sgt. Mark Allen has died 10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for deserter Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.

Allen died on Saturday at the age of 46, according to funeral information posted online.

Read More Show Less

For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.

"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.

In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.

"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."

Read More Show Less
Defense Secretary Mark Esper (Associated Press photo)

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday he and the Pentagon will comply with House Democrats' impeachment inquiry subpoena, but it'll be on their own schedule.

"We will do everything we can to cooperate with the Congress," Esper said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Just in the last week or two, my general counsel sent out a note — as we typically do in these situations — to ensure documents are retained."

Read More Show Less

Most of the U.S. troops in Syria are being moved out of the country as Turkish forces and their Arab allies push further into Kurdish territory than originally expected, Task & Purpose has learned.

Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, leaving a residual force of between 100 and 150 service members at the Al Tanf garrison, a U.S. official said.

"I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday's edition of CBS News' "Face the Nation."'

Read More Show Less

BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Women affiliated with Islamic State and their children fled en masse from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria on Sunday after shelling by Turkish forces in a five-day-old offensive, the region's Kurdish-led administration said.

Turkey's cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara's Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.

Turkey is facing threats of possible sanctions from the United States unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.

Read More Show Less