Iowa National Guard units were placed on border patrols four years ago and a spokesman says they’re ready to serve again if the president calls. President Bush is scheduled to speak to the nation tonight (Monday) about immigration issues and Bush is expected to pledge to send thousands of National Guard troops to stop the tide of illegal immigration across the U.S./Mexico border.
Lieutenant Colonel Greg Hapgood, a spokesman for the Iowa National Guard, says a few hundred Iowa Guard soldiers were dispatched to border patrols after the September 11th attacks. In 2002 and 2003, some of Iowa’s part-time soldiers were placed on active duty and given security assignments. About three-hundred-50 were sent to patrol the U.S. border with Canada.
Hapgood says any Iowa National Guard soldier could perform border patrols. “What a soldier needs to perform this mission well is just, first of all, the basic set of soldiering skills…but also after they’re mobilized they’d receive very specific mission tasks,” Hapgood says. There are about two-hundred Guard soldiers from other states deployed along the two-thousand-mile U.S./Mexico border today.
Bush is scheduled to outline his plans tonight (Monday) during a seven o’clock (Iowa time) speech to the nation. The Iowa National Guard currently has about 11-hundred soldiers on active duty. About seven-thousand more could be called up, but Hapgood says they’ve heard received no word from the Pentagon about which soldiers may be called up for border duty.