Thursday, June 29, 2006
So Much For Securing The Border With National Guard Troops
Unfortunately for the administration, the National Guard Bureau spokesman couldn't respond to the Associated Press because he's in Iraq.
SACRAMENTO — The Bush administration has been unable to muster even half the 2,500 National Guardsmen it planned to have on the Mexican border by the end of June, officials in the border states said. The head of the National Guard Bureau disputed that tally and said the goal would be met by Friday.
As of Thursday, the next-to-last day of the month, fewer than 1,000 troops were in place, according to military officials in Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona.
President Bush's plan called for all 50 states to send troops. But only 10 states — including the four border states — have signed commitments.
Some state officials have argued that they cannot free up Guardsmen because of flooding in the East, wildfires in the West or the prospect of hurricanes in the South.
"It's not a combat priority. It is a volunteer mission," said Kristine Munn, spokeswoman for the National Guard Bureau, an arm of the Pentagon, "so it's a question of balancing the needs of the Border Patrol with the needs of 54 states and territories, and all those balls roll in different directions."
Bush's plan called for 2,500 troops to be on the border in support roles by June 30, and 6,000 by the end of July. But officials in the border states said the Guard won't reach the 2,500 target until early to mid-July and will likely need longer to meet the 6,000 mark.
"The magical numbers coming out of Washington are not going to happen, definitely not by Friday," said Maj. Paul Ellis, a spokesman for the Arizona National Guard.
A White House spokesman declined to comment, referring questions to the National Guard Bureau.
Can't wait to hear what Lou Dobbs has to say about this story tomorrow on CNN.