Border Plan Could Include Area Guard - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/16/06

Border Plan Could Include Area Guard

President George Bush is proposing putting National Guard troops on the border with Mexico as support personnel for at least one year, until the government can strengthen and better train the border patrol.

"Up to 6,000 Guard in the first year of operation really is not going to put a strain on our capacity to fight and win the war on terror, as well as deal with natural disasters," the president said.

If some form of this plan passes, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue has already pledged that Georgia Guardsmen will be involved in the border safety program. So we went to the soldiers and one local lawmaker to see what they have to say about the plan.

"We don't want to overuse them domestically or internationally, however there is a national emergency," said US Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA Dist. 1).

Congressman Kingston agrees that something needs to be done to keep our borders safe, even if that means taking local Guardsmen away from their loved ones again.

"They have 2,000, 3,000 people coming over each day," he said. "Some aren't coming over for jobs, but narcotics traffickers or terrorists themselves."

Many members of the 48th Brigade just came back last week. In fact, the "welcome home" signs are still up at the base. But that hasn't stopped them from volunteering for their next mission, going to the border, protecting the United States and keeping illegal immigrants out.

"The key to getting support from the soldiers is keeping them informed, letting them know what's going on and why we are doing something," said Staff Sgt. William McVay with the 48th. "Then you'll get their support every time."

McVay says most soldiers would be willing to go to the border if asked. One Guardsman has already come in and asked if he can deploy tomorrow.

While not every soldier will be as gung ho to go, they know what they signed up for, and the honor it is to defend our country.

"Do I think we should do this forever, this should be a permanent mission?" asked Staff Sgt. McVay. "No, I do not. This should be a temporary measure and this is valid as a temporary measure."

But before they plan for another trip, Guardsmen will all have to wait and see if this proposal measures up with the members of Congress.

You know the 48th Brigade is literally just back from Iraq in the past few months. So before you worry too much, remember there are other Guard units they can send. Even then, the president's plan calls for a total of 6,000 Guardsmen and -women, which equals 120 per state.

Reported by: Andrew Davis, andrewdavis@wtoc.com

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