Utah National Guard ready for border deployment if called
Apr 5, 2018, 3:27 PM | Updated: Apr 6, 2018, 12:06 am
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah National Guard members are ready to deploy to the U.S.-Mexico border if needed, said public affairs officer Lt. Col. Steven Fairbourn. This, after President Donald Trump ordered National Guard troops to the area in response to illegal immigration concerns.
“The President can make his declaration, but then that needs to trickle down through the chain of commands: through the Department of Defense, through the Department of the Army and down to the various of state agencies,” he said.
During this process, officials would determine which units from which states will be best suited to accomplish this mission. Lt. Col. Fairbourn said Utah’s National Guard specializes in special forces, medical, military intelligence and artillery units.
Whatever is decided, he said their almost 7,000 members are always ready to serve – be it in the nation’s wars, for disaster response, or for security means.
“Our service members and airmen are always a little bit on our toes, standing by and ready. While it’s been confusing for many, we have continued to deploy people to theaters of war. Only recently, weeks ago, we deployed 130 people from our 65th Field Artillery Brigade. While many have a belief that these wars and the threats to the United States have stopped, to us it’s very real and to the families of those deployed it’s very, very real,” he said.
Lt. Col. Fairbourn said at this point they were waiting to see if any of their units would be asked to deploy to the President’s mission.
In Washington, Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie told reporters at the Pentagon that it has not yet been determined how many, if any, of the troops participating in the border security operation will be armed.
With troops in all states, the National Guard has been called on by past presidents and governors to help secure U.S. borders, and the Texas contingent said it had “firsthand knowledge of the mission and operating area” that will allow it to move seamlessly into the new role.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)