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Border Vulnerable Few U.s. Troops Available to Protect Us

I reported in the Laguna Journal as syndicated worldwide in March 2008 that the United States Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense are charged with protecting our southern border with Mexico. That the U.S. Military was capable and ready to respond with specially trained fast response U.S. Army military units. These forces are already in place with the heart of the power being concentrated in El Paso and Southern New Mexico with a far reaching responsibility from East Texas to Southern California. See U.S. Military Being Sent to the Border with Mexico

Yet within days of that press report retiring Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army's vice chief of staff told Congress that the "Readiness of the army Is Dangerously Low." In a stark assessment a week before Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, was to testify on the war's progress, the Army's vice chief of staff, said that the heavy deployments are inflicting "incredible stress" on soldiers and families and that they pose "a significant risk" to the nation's all-volunteer military.

Senior Army and Marine Corps leaders also said that the increase of more than 30,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan has put unsustainable levels of stress on U.S. ground forces and has put their readiness to fight other conflicts at the lowest level in years.

USAF General Victor E. Renuart Jr. commander of United States Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Commander told the press that the Ft. Bliss 1st Armored Division soldiers, as well as a new missile defense unit, and F-22 Raptors that are stationed at Holloman Air Force Base will be available to defend homeland security. Recently they are being staged and immediately available as emergency "on call" units for use against terrorist threats on the nation's border. He further indicated that the threats uncovered along the border with Mexico he would not discuss any details. But he did say many agencies, including JTF-North, have made "it a very difficult border for someone to take advantage of."

The commander has said while they cannot be specific, transnational threats are those activities conducted by individuals or groups that involve international terrorism, narcotrafficking, alien smuggling, weapons of mass destruction, and includes the delivery systems for such weapons that threaten the national security of the United States. We will not at this time identify specific threats due to operational security reasons. In identifying the threats, we could in fact be revealing tactics we employ that we do not want our adversaries to know. In time, some of the interdicted threats may in fact be declassified and acknowledged in the open press by the primary or lead federal law enforcement agencies, or by USNORTHCOM/JTF-North.

NORTHCOM was established following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to provide for the defense of the United States and to provide military support to civil authorities when requested by the president or secretary of defense. NORTHCOM also is responsible for overseeing military responses to natural and man-made disasters, such as hurricanes and incidents involving weapons of mass destruction within the United States borders.

"We're engaged in a long struggle against violent extremists that seek to exploit any seams in our armor," Renuart said. "Our job … is to mend those seams, to strengthen the shield."

NORAD and NORTHCOM "have quietly and professionally conducted a mission that, by its nature, cannot fail," Renuart said. "It also has to be something that is invisible and transparent to our nation."

NORAD is a binational command that includes both American and Canadian forces and is charged with aerospace and maritime warning for North America. NORTHCOM is responsible for homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities.

As previously reported in the Journal the federal government acknowledged that the United States-Mexican border region has been experiencing an alarming rise in the level of criminal cartel activity, including drug, weapon and human smuggling, which has placed significant additional burdens on Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies.

Just last week thousands of Mexican soldiers were sent to our border with Mexico to El Paso's sister city CD. Juarez, after many pleas from the cities Mayor. The Mexican troops arrived by troop transport C-130 Hercules aircraft, military transport vehicles, gunship helicopters, troop personal carries, pickups and Humvees with mounted .50-caliber machine guns. These convoys are operating throughout the city. With an estimated up to 30.000 Mexican troops deployed throughout Mexico allegedly fighting the drug and terrorist war puts Mexican soldiers on our borders with Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

2500 murdered in Mexico since the first of the year with over 200 slained in Juárez so far this year, many of whom were killed execution-style and is attributed to fighting Mexican drug cartels. These gang land styled killings, has reached as many as 10 a day. The escalating violence has caused uneasiness on the U.S. side of the border, and some officials fear that the violence will spill into El Paso and other American border cities. The U.S. placed Mexico under a travel alert As Thousands of Armed Mexican Troops Patrol the Streets of Juarez

The U.S. border with Mexico extends nearly 2,000 miles along the southern borders of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. In most areas, the border is located in remote and sparsely populated areas of vast desert and rugged mountain terrain with vast open water of the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific oceans.

The U.S. government admits that the border's vast length and varied terrain poses significant challenges to U.S. law enforcement efforts to control the entry of individuals and goods into the United States.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the federal agency with primary responsibility to detect and prevent illegal entry into the United States. The latest available data indicates that approximately 11,000 CBP agents patrol the nearly 6,000 miles of international border the United States shares with its neighbors Mexico and Canada many border patrol agents have told this reporter that they need more help patrolling and securing our borders.

In addition to Federal agents, State, sheriff, and some bordering city police are expected to help patrol the border areas. In remote areas along the border, many sheriffs' departments are called upon to address border-related criminal matters and serve as a backstop to CBP operations. In many cases, these local law enforcement agencies do not have the resources necessary to patrol the thousands of square miles of border territory under their respective jurisdiction, leaving the security of the U.S. border vulnerable.

Dozens of U.S. citizens have been kidnapped, held hostage and killed by their captors in Mexico and many cases remain unsolved. Moreover, new cases of disappearances and kidnap-for-ransom continue to be reported. See: Americans Being Kidnapped, Held and killed in Mexico

The question remains does the United States have the manpower to protect our borders? It appears we may not. Today with our troops spread so thin around the world is the U.S. border vulnerable with too few troops available to protect us?

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