News Branch National Guard

Texas is building an 80-acre forward operating base for the National Guard at the border

The planned base along the Rio Grande River is expected to open at a later time.
Nicholas Slayton Avatar
A Texas National Guard agent plays with a toy rubber chicken that makes sounds, in front of an immigrant, near a barbed wire fence installed to prevent the entry of illegal migrants across the Rio Bravo/Grande from Ciudad Juarez, state of Chihuahua, Mexico on February 12, 2024. (Photo by Herika Martinez / AFP) (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

The state of Texas plans to build a new 80-acre “base camp” for National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico border. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the plan on Friday, Feb. 16, touting it as a way to enhance the Guard’s mission, even as a legal standoff with the federal government in the courts continues. 

The planned FOB is located near Shelby Park, a public space in Eagle Pass, Texas along the Rio Grande River. National Guard troops had earlier put up razor wire along the river in an effort to deter and block migrants from entering the country. The National Guard also blocked agents from Customs and Border Patrol from entering the park, leading to a tense fight between the state and federal government that went to the Supreme Court. 

The proposed base, dubbed “Forward Operating Base Eagle,” would be able to house 1,800 National Guard personnel. If needed it could house as many as 2,300.

“This will increase the ability for a larger number of Texas Military Department soldiers in Eagle Pass to operate more effectively and efficiently. Before now, the Texas National Guard had been scattered across this entire region in cramped quarters, away from fellow soldiers, and sometimes traveling long distances to do their job,” Abbott said at a press conference Friday. “This base camp is going to dramatically improve conditions for our soldiers.”

The move comes after the United States Supreme Court said last month that Customs and Border Patrol could cut down the razor wire. However Texas says it will continue to put up the wire at Shelby Park, essentially ignoring the Supreme Court’s ruling. Several people have drowned this year in the Rio Grande while attempting to enter the United States. 

According to the state, Forward Operating Base Eagle will have a dining facility, laundry equipment, wireless Internet access and medical services. The exact budget for this new FOB hasn’t been announced. 

Subscribe to Task & Purpose Today. Get the latest military news and culture in your inbox daily.

Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in 2021, saying the situation at the border needed a military response. 

National Guard troops sent to the border as part of Operation Lone Star often had negative things to say about conditions there. A survey obtained by the Texas Tribune and Military Times found guardsmen complaining about the mobilization and execution of their deployment, the longevity of it, living conditions and delayed or disrupted pay and a lack of benefits. Others talked about how the mission pulled them away from family and careers while more said they felt the border mission was politically motivated. Later reporting by the two outlets found that the Texas National Guard had to disband Operation Lone Star’s intelligence operation after it was found to be spying on migrants in a violation of rules against state-run spying. 

Major General Thomas Suelzer, the Adjutant General of Texas, said that the Texas National Guard plans to expand its operations to the north and south of Eagle Pass in the near future. 

There could be legal obstacles to that. The state and the federal government have essentially been in a stalemate since the Supreme Court’s ruling. This week a court in Austin heard the first oral arguments in the federal government’s challenge to a Texas law. That new law, which would let state law enforcement carry out deportation, is set to go into effect March 5. 

The latest on Task & Purpose