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Robert L. Harris assumed the duties as Director of Joint Task Force – West (JTF-W) of DHS’ Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Plan (SBACP) on December 15, 2014. This joint task force structure focuses cross-departmental and integrated counter-network operations on strategic objectives across four geographical corridors: JTF-W California Corridor, JTF-W Arizona Corridor, JTF-W New Mexico/West Texas Corridor, and JTF-W South Texas Corridor while simultaneously strengthening existing structures within each area. Area networks within the JTF-W Joint Operating Area (JOA) include supporting components, Department of Defense (DOD) Commands, International, State, Local, and Tribal entities. JTF-W efforts are designed to extend the border and institutionalize an asymmetric operational agility, effectiveness, and impact against targeted Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO) networks.
Previously Director Harris was the first named Commander of the South Texas Campaign (STC) from February 2012 to December 2014, overseeing more than 10,000 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) employees and approximately 463,900 square miles, 697 riverine miles and 1,000 littoral miles. Director Harris concurrently served as the Chief Patrol Agent of the U.S. Border Patrol’s (USBP) Laredo Sector. Director Harris has more than 30 years of distinguished Federal service with the Border Patrol. As a member of class 167 on October 14, 1984, he began his career at the San Clemente Station in San Diego Sector. He has served in many key leadership positions throughout the organization including national Deputy Chief – Office of Border Patrol, Associate Chief – Border Patrol Operations, Chief – Spokane Border Patrol Sector, Chief of Intelligence Operations and Assistant Chief.
As Deputy Chief, Director Harris developed a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard the country against terrorism and respond to any future attacks while leading and managing the transition of the Border Patrol into the newly created CBP, eliminating three regional offices and establishing a straight line chain of command. He led Operation Safe Passage – a national security deployment of 317 agents to nine international airports within 36 hours of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, simultaneously implementing enhanced border security measures along the United States / Canada / Mexico borders.
Director Harris led the buildup of 1000 Border Patrol Agents along the U.S. / Canadian border. He led extraordinary change as the Task Force Director of Operation Jump Start, deploying 6000 National Guard Soldiers to the international borders in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Director Harris is a member of the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC), and has coordinated foreign and domestic enforcement operations, to include service in Bolivia, Guatemala, and Estonia. Director Harris was awarded the 2013 Presidential Rank Award for his excellence, superior performance and notable leadership and awarded the 2008 Secretary of Homeland Security, DHS Team Excellence Award.
Director Harris holds a Bachelor’s degree in Management and a Master’s degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College. He is a graduate of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is also a second-generation Border Patrol Agent. His father and brother are both retired Border Patrol Agents from the San Angelo, Texas Border Patrol Station.