SC National Guard units prepared to go to Texas or Arizona borders
YORK COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - Monday afternoon, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster offered Texas Governor Greg Abbott help with border control from SC National Guard Units.
McMaster says this decision was not politically motivated.
"We have to keep the country safe, President Trump is right about building that wall," McMaster said. "Until the Wall is built, we need to patrol the border and have border security."
McMaster says he plans to offer the same help to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.
"If we don't have a border, we don't have a country," McMaster said. "We have 9,300 guardsmen and 1,300 airmen [...] our people are ready to go."
South Carolina National Guard Director of Public Affairs Lt. Colonel Cindi King says it is not uncommon for South Carolina soldiers to be sent to the border.
"This is nothing new, it's something that we're trained and ready to do," King said. "Governor McMaster is reaching forward to say 'what can we do to help?'"
King says National Guard units have been sent to the Mexican border four times since the 1990s.
King says in the late 1990s, the 122d Engineer Battalion and 122d Engineer Company built part of the existing border wall in the San Diego area. In 2007, the 2-151 Security and Support Battalion provided two OH58 Kiowa aircraft and 20 people in support of security operations along the Arizona-Mexico border for Operation Jump Start.
In 2012, King says the National Guard Bureau tasked the South Carolina Army National Guard to stand up a command element in support of the Texas Military Department to provide surveillance and support to the customs and Border Patrol.
King says they provided command and control assets along with two UH-72 Lakota helicopters. About 25 soldiers from South Carolina aided in the Operation Phalanx. Individual South Carolina soldiers have been sent back to aid in the mission for short durations.
In 2016, the South Carolina soldiers again supported Operation Phalanx with 15 soldiers and two Lakota helicopters.
King says it has not been decided in what capacity the South Carolina National Guard would be used in this deployment. Governor McMaster says Governor Abbott and Major General Robert E. Livingston, Jr. of South Carolina's National Guard will make the decision.
Until they know what is needed, it is unclear how many units or soldiers will be sent.
McMaster says the support is federally funded.
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