Governor requests National Guard increase at border

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PHOENIX - The following is a press release from the Arizona Governor's Office:

In a letter to the Honorable Robert M. Gates, Secretary, U.S. Department of Defense, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer today requested an increase in military presence on the Arizona-Mexico border.More specifically, she requested an increase of approximately 250 National Guard soldiers under the mandate and control of the Joint Counter Narco-Terrorism Task Force (JCNTF) using federal funding under Title 32, Section 112 of the United States Code for National Guard activities.

"Arizona communities and citizens are negatively affected by the impacts of the illegal drug trade and related border violence, and enforcement agencies in all jurisdictions are stretched as they attempt to address the enormity of the problems," stated Brewer."Our citizens must be protected from border violence.Arizona and other U.S./Mexico border states continue to be confronted by a number of unique and disproportionate challenges relative to other states and we bear significant unreimbursed costs in the public, non-profit and business sectors associated with border related challenges."

Arizona's border with Mexico is 350 miles in length, and recent Arizona Department of Homeland Security (AZDHS) statistics rank Arizona's section of the southwest border as the most porous in the nation with the highest rate of interdiction.The Governor's request would bring the existing JCNTF personnel total to approximately 400 Army and Air National Guard soldiers and airmen.

Citing the enormity of the growing problem, the Governor emphasized in her letter that Arizona on its own cannot and should not face the prospect of sustaining additional forces to address what is a federal responsibility.She added that support provided pursuant to Title 32, Section 112 of the United States Code for National Guard activities along the border is both a lawful, justified and prudent step to take at this time.

"The support these additional soldiers can provide to law enforcement agency operations would prove invaluable," stated Brewer.

The JCNTF's mission is to provide uniquely suited and quality military support to requesting federal, state and local Drug Law Enforcement Agencies as well as Community Based Organizations in the fight against illicit drugs with professionalism and successful mission results.JCNTF personnel are paid with federal funds under Title 32 to include medical costs, as afforded to Active Duty personnel.All mission costs are born by the federal government.