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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced they will continue their critical partnership to further strengthen the already unprecedented levels of personnel, technology, and infrastructure along the Southwest border - representing the Administration's ongoing commitment to secure the border and facilitate legitimate trade and travel.
Since the summer of 2010, National Guard troops have acted as a critical support bridge while the Administration brought on new assets provided by the 2010 supplemental appropriation dedicated to effective border management and security. To date, Guardsmen stationed at the border supported civilian law enforcement on the ground through surveillance and criminal analysis.
With additional DHS civilian law enforcement assets, including a record number of U.S. Border Patrol agents, now in place, the DOD mission at the border will transition as part of a new strategic approach, adding a number of new multi-purpose aerial assets equipped with the latest surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. Additionally, DOD will provide air mobility support to the Border Patrol, allowing for faster response capabilities to a wide range of activities. The deployment of these new DOD technical assets, along with the additional DHS personnel on the ground, will enable DOD to reduce the number of National Guard troops at the Southwest border while enhancing border security.
The addition of aerial surveillance assets allows the National Guard to better support DHS by shifting surveillance from fixed sites to mobile ones that can quickly match the dynamic environment of the border - a significant enhancement in the ability to detect and deter illegal activity at the border - and provide greater support to the thousands of men and women involved in border security.
The transition to the new DOD/DHS strategic approach will begin in January, with additional aviation assets in place by March 1st. The aerial assets, which include both rotary and fixed-wing, will provide additional benefits including:
- Increased ability to operate in diverse landscapes: Operating environments differ from sector to sector and even within sectors. An aerial platform provides a much greater field of vision for surveillance in places with challenging terrain.
- Additional deterrence: The additional DOD aerial assets, which establish a greater visible presence from a distance to individuals attempting to cross the border illegally, coupled with the Border Patrol boots on the ground, will provide even greater border deterrence capabilities.
- A faster response time: The air assets will reduce enforcement response time, enabling Border Patrol officers to quickly move from one location to another on short notice to meet emerging threats of illegal activity or incursion. Aircraft also provide the ability to quickly reach areas in rugged terrain or areas without roads that were previously difficult to access.
- Flexible and adaptive surveillance as opposed to relying on fixed sites.
In FY 2011, U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions - a key indicator of illegal immigration - decreased to 340,252, down 53 percent since FY 2008 and one fifth of what they were at their peak in FY 2000. Since 2004, the size of the Border Patrol has doubled to 21,444.