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How Will National Guard Troops Contribute To Border Security?

Audio

Aired 8/31/10

An inside look at the deployment of 260 National Guard troops at the U.S. - Mexico border here in San Diego County. Why did so many troops apply for the job, and what are they doing on a daily basis to help the Border Patrol?

ALISON ST JOHN (Host): I’m Alison St John, in for Maureen Cavanaugh and you’re listening to These Days here on KPBS. Security along San Diego's border with Mexico is tighter than it is along many other stretches of the border and the number of illegal crossings has fallen dramatically in the last few years. But California is one of four states that’s getting more resources from the Obama administration to beef up border security, and more than 200 National Guard troops have arrived to help the Border Patrol. So with us here on These Days is Major Kim Holman of the National Guard. Thank you so much for being here, Kim.

MAJOR KIM HOLMAN (National Guard): Good morning.

ST JOHN: And Justin de la Torre, Special Operations supervisor for the U.S. Border Patrol in San Diego. Justin, good to have you here.

JUSTIN DE LA TORRE (Supervisor, Special Operations, U.S. Border Patrol): Good morning. Thanks for having us.

ST JOHN: And, of course, if you would like to join the conversation, you’re always welcome to give us a call at 1-888-895-5727, that’s 1-888-895-KPBS. So, Kim, let’s start here. We hear that you’ve got thousands of applications for this opportunity for National Guard to join the Border Patrol at the border. Why was San Diego’s border so popular among the National Guard?

MAJOR HOLMAN: You know, this is the second time that we’ve ramped up here in San Diego to work with Border Patrol with the National Guard. Last time was from 2006 to 2008 with Operation Jumpstart and it was a very successful partnership between Border Patrol and the National Guard. I think people remember that. I think they’ve heard about that. So we started back in mid-July or so ramping up for this mission, put out the application on our website and got an overwhelming response of people that wanted to do it again or had heard about it and wanted to try it out this time. So what made that nice this time is we had a very good pool of highly qualified applicants to choose from.

ST JOHN: Now, with most branches of the military, of course, they would just be told that you’re going to deploy here, there or wherever, but in the case of the National Guard just help us understand a little bit the role…

MAJOR HOLMAN: Yeah, this is a…

ST JOHN: …of the National Guard.

MAJOR HOLMAN: …one hundred percent all-volunteer force. And, like we said, you know, there were thousands of applications for there’s 260 authorized positions in California and we had absolutely no problem filling those positions this time.

ST JOHN: So how did you go about selecting the people to take on this job of working at the border? What sort of things were you looking for?

MAJOR HOLMAN: Well, depending on what the position was. We do have a handful of criminal analysts who are working with ICE and those people have a military intelligence background. And the folks who are entry identification teams, who are working out there in the field with the Border agents, a lot of those guys have a background with security forces. But it just depends. I think they look at a lot of things. It wasn’t me specifically who was looking at those applications but they look at a lot of things to make sure that they’re a good, well-rounded individual. Sometimes it has to do not with their military background but with what they do on the outside as their civilian job. As guardsmen, they also have a civilian job so…

ST JOHN: I should imagine the opportunity to serve a little closer to home than Iraq and Afghanistan might’ve played a role also.

MAJOR HOLMAN: Absolutely. This is a very unique mission in that you’re supporting the Department of Homeland Security here on American soil and that doesn’t arise very often. I think a lot of people realize that and really jumped at the opportunity.

ST JOHN: So, Justin, you’re with the Border Patrol and you were responsible, the Border Patrol was responsible for the training of the National Guard that were selected for this. What kind of training and where was the training. It was up north, I understand. What did you put them through?

DE LA TORRE: Well, like Kim said, it’s definitely not a new mission for the National Guard and as far as the training goes, with the Border Patrol, really, we just tried to familiarize the soldiers with our terminology, with our ways of communicating through the radio, give them any kind of information that would help them detect illegal activity in between the ports of entry and just better prepare them to assist us in our mission.

ST JOHN: Is the communication system a new one? Is it one of the new systems that are being brought with interoperable communication systems? Does it need training?

DE LA TORRE: Generally, they use the same communication systems that we already – that we currently have so they’ll use our radio communication systems.

ST JOHN: But you have a special language, I suppose, that people have to learn.

DE LA TORRE: Yes, ma’am.

ST JOHN: Yeah. So tell us a bit about the difference between what the Border Patrol is already doing and what the National Guard will be doing.

DE LA TORRE: Well, if I can kind of just give a brief synopsis of our mission and then I’ll – and then I can go into how the National Guard has – will be assisting us in that. Basically, the mission for the Border Patrol is to prevent dangerous people and capabilities from entering the United States in between ports of entries. So in order to do that, we have to be able to detect all entries or have a high probability of detecting entries in the first instance when they make that illegal entry. And that’s where the National Guard is going to be a great assistance to us in that their entry identification teams will be strategically placed out on the border and assist us in detecting illegal entries. At that point of time, when they do make those detections, Border Patrol agents would respond to and identify and make the apprehension as necessary.

ST JOHN: Is there a difference, though, between the role of the Border Patrol and the National Guard for the task they take on?

DE LA TORRE: Well, the National Guardsmen will strictly be serving as entry identification teams so they will only be doing the detection piece where they’d be assisting in a surveillance role. Border Patrol agents do that as well on a daily basis but we also do interviews. We’ll actually make the physical apprehensions of illegal entrants whereas the National Guard would just be doing detection.

ST JOHN: So, Kim, the National Guard will be carrying firearms, I take it, right?

MAJOR HOLMAN: Yes, they will.

ST JOHN: And will they be authorized to use them in the same way as the Border Patrol?

MAJOR HOLMAN: We are carrying firearms for self-protection. And we are there to support Border Patrol. We are there to be extra eyes and ears, as you’ll hear, a lot of times is the way it’s described. We are observing and reporting and getting that back to Border Patrol, and then they come in and carry out the law enforcement duties at that time.

ST JOHN: So it’s very much a matter of being eyes and ears, sort of more – just more people along the border…

MAJOR HOLMAN: Right.

ST JOHN: …to keep an eye out. And then using the communication systems that you were talking about, Justin, to communicate it. The thing is that it’s not just along the border that they’re going to be deployed, I understand. Tell us a bit more about where else they’ll be.

MAJOR HOLMAN: Yeah, I don’t want to step in Justin’s lane here but it’s up to Border Patrol to determine where is strategically the best place to put us, where we can be most effective in assisting them. And it could be right along the border, it can be with the border in visual distance, but sometimes there’s a corridor that may be more, you know, where there’s more activity going on. It could be up the coast. It just depends on where they need us most and they will be adjusting where they have us.

ST JOHN: We’re speaking with Major Kim Holman of the National Guard, and Justin de la Torre of the Border Patrol about the – a lot of different measures recently about beefing up along the border but specifically the National Guard, more than 200 of them, coming down to San Diego County to help out the Border Patrol. So, Justin, is it true to say that they’re actually going to be deployed also out to sea because with the beefing up along the border, the ocean route of getting to this country has become more important.

DE LA TORRE: Well, we have identified the majority of the entry identification team locations will be down on the land border in between the ports of entry in extremely close proximity to the border so that they can detect illegal entries at the first instance when they cross into the United States illegally. However, with the increase in maritime smuggling, we’ve also identified a few locations along the coast where we could potentially use National Guardsmen to assist us in detecting suspicious vessels that have been coming ashore with illegal entrants as well.

ST JOHN: We heard about one just on Sunday where there were 7 illegal immigrants detained from a boat. I think we’re hearing that more and more. So would you say that your resources are actually going seaborne, as it were, more than ever before?

DE LA TORRE: Well, I think it can also be looked at as a measure of success on the land side. As we increase operational control on the land, we’ve noticed that criminal organizations are going more and more to the ocean.

ST JOHN: Umm-hmm.

DE LA TORRE: But what we’ve done in San Diego is through joint planning and joint coordination with the Maritime Unified Command, which is a group of Department of Homeland Security agencies, also local law enforcement, and we actually conduct planning and operations together where we can, you know, leverage those resources of each individual agency to address that problem.

ST JOHN: So some of the boats have been landing as far up as like San Onofre beach. Will we be seeing National Guard deployed on the beaches up the coast? Could…

MAJOR HOLMAN: There will be National Guardsmen up along the coast at various locations and they are very visible. They’re a visible deterrent. They’re not hiding. And they’re there as, like we were saying, just to help out the Border Patrol and if they see something that looks suspicious, they’re going to report it to them.

ST JOHN: So there might be more people in uniform, you know, visible along the – our beaches in the coming months.

MAJOR HOLMAN: Yes, ma’am.

ST JOHN: So just to be aware that they will almost always be National Guard, is that right? Or will some of them be Border Patrol?

MAJOR HOLMAN: Well, if you see a California National Guardsman along the border or along the shore, you can know that the Border Patrol’s not far away.

ST JOHN: I see, so they’re very much working in partnership.

MAJOR HOLMAN: Absolutely.

ST JOHN: What about more inland? I mean, I know that we see the Border Patrol up the freeways. Is it possible that we might be seeing more uniformed National Guard in North County communities, for example?

DE LA TORRE: No, ma’am, not away from a location where they wouldn’t – where they would not be able to assist us in detecting entries.

ST JOHN: Okay.

DE LA TORRE: That’s our primary mission and that’s the goal of having the National Guard with us to help out, is to help assist in detecting those entries in the first available instance.

ST JOHN: So it could be anywhere up the coast where a boat, a Panga, might land but not so much inland.

DE LA TORRE: Yes, ma’am.

ST JOHN: So, Kim, why would you say that the National Guard is ideally suited for this role of helping to support the Border Patrol?

MAJOR HOLMAN: What’s unique about National Guardsmen is that they are civilians as well as being military members and so they have jobs as a postman, they can be working at a grocery store down the street, they can be a civilian pilot on the outside, so you have all of these very different skill sets that they bring in alongside with whatever their military skill set is. And so they have also a background with – they’re not just working full time military all the time. They have that presence of mind to be able to speak, hopefully, with not as much jargon. And I think it just helps to, when you’re working with a civilian agency, you’re more familiar with how to interact with them.

ST JOHN: Umm. And this could be important if, in fact, people who are engaged in border operations are becoming more integrated into the community here in San Diego.

MAJOR HOLMAN: Right. Umm-hmm.

ST JOHN: Yeah, and something that the community is perhaps going to see more of and need to adjust to. So tell us a little bit here, Justin, about how border crossings have changed over the last five years. I mean, from what we understand, they’ve not been on the increase at all. To the contrary.

DE LA TORRE: Correct. And, in fact, from last year to this year, specifically in San Diego sector, apprehensions are down 43%, so that is a significant decrease. And then over the last five years, the number is even more significant. When we look at our ability to gain operational control of the border and how we define operational control of the border, the number of apprehensions, in and of itself, does not necessarily indicate success but it is a good indictor. When we look at operational control, we have to have a high probability of detection of all entries that cross in between the ports of entry. In order to classify those entries and determine who – what activity is taking place, we have to first be able to detect those entries and then classify them and ultimately bring them to a law enforcement resolution. And, again, that’s where the National Guard is going to be a big assistance.

ST JOHN: 888-895-5727, if you’d like to make a comment, ask a question of Major Kim Holman of the National Guard or Justin de la Torre, Special Operations supervisor for the U.S. Border Patrol here in San Diego. So how many Border Patrol agents do we currently have working on the border and has that increased dramatically over the last few years, Justin?

DE LA TORRE: Yes, ma’am. In San Diego sector specifically, we have just over 2500 agents. The Border Patrol nationwide is over 20,000 agents. And CBP has been authorized to hire an additional 1,000 agents for the Border Patrol so, yeah, we’ve definitely increased our numbers.

ST JOHN: So the number of agents is going up, beefed up with the National Guard coming down, but the number of illegal crossings is going down probably a combination of factors there but the economy is bound to be one of them. It’s less attractive to be coming across to the United States. Is there a sense that when the economy improves there’s going to be a fresh challenge for the Border Patrol? I mean, are you ready for that?

DE LA TORRE: Well, it’s definitely a potential factor that we do look at. However, when we look at our ability to gain operational control, we have to have those three factors which is the right amount of personnel, we have to have the right technology, and we also have to have sufficient infrastructure along the border in order to respond to those entries. So regardless of the flow, we need to have the appropriate personnel, equipment and infrastructure to respond to that threat.

ST JOHN: So your experience of your job is perhaps quite different at the moment because you’re receiving a lot more resources and yet the actual influx is reducing?

DE LA TORRE: Umm-hmm.

ST JOHN: Yeah. We just wanted to talk a little bit about also what’s in the news today about new security measures along the southwestern border and I’ll just read you what the Department of Homeland Security is saying that they’ve done since last year. They’ve doubled the number of personnel assigned to border enforcement security task forces, tripled the number of Immigration and Customs enforcement officers working along the U.S.-Mexico border, quadrupled deployments of border liaison officers and begun screening 100% of southbound rail shipments for illegal weapons, drugs and cash. And they’re also deploying, as of tomorrow, some drones, unmanned aerial systems, flight operations covering all southwestern border states. Justin, can you comment at all about the drones specifically? Are they going to be flying over San Diego?

DE LA TORRE: We don’t have that asset in San Diego. My understanding of the increases that it’ll be in support of the state of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. However, we don’t currently have that asset in San Diego.

ST JOHN: Are you expecting that that might become an asset?

DE LA TORRE: It’s definitely something that the Office of Border Patrol and DHS is looking at but at this time we don’t have that capability.

ST JOHN: And amongst yourselves, I mean, does that seem like that would be a useful asset?

DE LA TORRE: I think when you look at anything that can assist us in detecting those entries is a huge asset.

ST JOHN: So at the moment, when Alan Bersin came, the – he came to San Diego last week and talked – or, two weeks ago and talked about all the federal resources coming to San Diego. He did mention that a lot of them will be going to Arizona initially…

DE LA TORRE: Umm-hmm.

ST JOHN: …because that’s where the border is perhaps most vulnerable. But why is it important to be also strengthening the border here in San Diego?

DE LA TORRE: Well, when you look at San Diego sector, we are third in the nation for apprehensions, second to Rio Grande Valley and Tucson sector leading the nation. So although we are increasing our levels of operational control, the vulnerability and the threat is still there. It hasn’t diminished. And if we don’t continue to address those vulnerabilities, they generally will be exploited by the criminal organizations.

ST JOHN: Okay, we’ll be right back after a short break, talking here with Major Kim Holman of the National Guard and Justin de la Torre of the Border Patrol here on These Days on KPBS.


ST JOHN: And you’re back here on These Days with me, Alison St John, sitting in for Maureen Cavanaugh, talking about the big shift, really, in terms of border enforcement here in San Diego with the addition of more than 200 National Guard. And we have with us Major Kim Holman of the National Guard, and Justin de la Torre of the Border Patrol. So we’ve been talking a bit about the role of the National Guard in what is a pretty big ramp up of border security and the National Guard is just one small part of it but an important part. And, Kim, tell us a bit more about the training that you did that really prepared your people for this role.

MAJOR HOLMAN: Right, we’ve got a place up north of Paso Robles, Camp Roberts, where we have an excellent training facility and we took our guys, we all met up there right around – just before the beginning of August, I guess it was. And we spent almost two weeks with them doing everything from background checks to medical screening. We did rollover training with the vehicles. There’s a lot of rough roads that they’re going to be driving with Border Patrol out there. There’s – they did their weapons qualifications, they did CLS, which is combat lifesaver skills training where they can be first responders dealing with not only each other if somebody’s dehydrated or has an issue out there medically but also with the people that are coming across the border. Sometimes they’re in distress and need help, so we want to be out there to help the Border Patrol in that way as well. So all sorts of different kind of training, briefings that we took care of up there at Camp Roberts and then we brought them back down here to San Diego afterwards and started integrating them, absorbing them in with Border Patrol and learning the way that they do their skills down here.

ST JOHN: We’d love to hear from you if you have any questions for Kim Holman or Justin de la Torre. 1-888-895-5727 is the number to call, 1-888-895-KPBS. So having arrived here, Kim, has there – What kind of adjustments have the border – the National Guard found that they’re making to fit in with the Border Patrol culture here?

MAJOR HOLMAN: Well, we just finished all of our training a couple of days ago. We actually went 100% fully operational as of Sunday morning, so, so far we haven’t really heard of any issues, any problems. Everything seems to be running quite smoothly.

ST JOHN: Justin.

DE LA TORRE: Well, it is a – When you look at the ability to add National Guard to our layered approach, it’s something that can be done rather quickly. As Kim talked about the training process, it’s not really that lengthy of a training process and we can deploy them rather quickly while CBP continues to add additional personnel to our agencies.

ST JOHN: And we’ve been talking about the fact that this is actually going to be something that the community in some ways has to adapt to, is the sight of uniformed officers, be it National Guard or Border Patrol, sort of more prevalent in our communities, both along the border, which I think people are fairly used to, but also along the coastline, you know, on the beaches where people may be out sunbathing. Do you have any concerns about, you know, how you’ll be received in those environments there, Kim?

MAJOR HOLMAN: I don’t think so. I think, you know, our National Guardsmen are trained to interact with the public and they know, especially on these type of sites, that that is most likely going to occur. And if somebody were to happen upon them, just like any other law enforcement agent, you would say good morning, good afternoon, how are you doing? And they would ask if there’s anything they can do for you. Unless there’s some kind of suspicious activity going on, there’s really nothing that – to be worried about as with any other law enforcement agent.

ST JOHN: And presumably many of the agents will be actually focused further out to sea rather than along the beaches, would that be true to say or…?

MAJOR HOLMAN: I believe that would be true. They’re going to be…

ST JOHN: Justin’s shaking his head.

DE LA TORRE: Well, within the Department of Homeland Security we have the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine. The Marine assets and the Coast Guard patrol out on the water generally, out in the Pacific Ocean, whereas Border Patrol agents are generally on the coast. They’re actually on the coastline. On the Pacific Ocean is extremely, extremely vast as you well know, so resources are definitely an issue as far as patrolling the actual waters themselves. So that’s where the Border Patrol and the local law enforcement and also in this case the National Guard are going to be assisting on the coastline itself, which is the equivalent of a border at that point.

ST JOHN: Do you ever sort of wonder – it seems a little contradictory that at a time when illegal immigration is down there’s going to be so much more resources along – so much more presence really of law enforcement in San Diego County.

DE LA TORRE: We’re definitely successful – We’ve definitely been successful over the past few years in increasing our level of operational control. However, despite that progress we’re not, you know, waving the flag of success yet. There’s still a lot of work to be done and when you look at other seizures that have taken place across DHS, illegal bulk cash has increased, illegal drugs have increased and weapon seizures have increased as well. So, again, the number of apprehensions, in and of itself, don’t necessarily dictate whether we have operational control or not. We have to recognize whether or not we have that ability to make those detections and there are remote locations along the border where our detection capabilities are extremely limited.

ST JOHN: So our border reporter here, Amy Isackson, mentioned that she was told, speaking of operational control that you were talking about, that the Border Patrol told her that they’ve gained 20 miles of operational control along the border in the last year. What does that mean exactly?

DE LA TORRE: Well, out of the 60 miles of border in San Diego, our goal was to gain an additional 22 miles of operational control for 2010. We generally don’t report where we’re at with that number until the fiscal year is over and I would look to hear a significant increase for San Diego. We are at a higher level of operational control now than we’ve ever been.

ST JOHN: And what is that due to?

DE LA TORRE: That’s due to, again, the increase in personnel…

ST JOHN: Umm-hmm.

DE LA TORRE: …the increase in infrastructure. We’ve had some significant infrastructure increases over the past couple of years where areas of the border are accessible by vehicle where they’ve never been accessible before. Drive times due to increased border road access have been increased where you can now drive from, say, the Pacific Ocean to the San Ysidro Port of Entry along the immediate border in a much quicker time because of the infrastructure improvements. We’ve also increased our detection capabilities through thermal – increased thermal imaging devices that help us detect entries at nighttime. So the improvements have been – are there but there’s still room to go.

ST JOHN: 888-895-5727 is the number to call and Mel is calling from Hillcrest. Mel, thanks for giving us a call. What’s your question?

MEL (Caller, Hillcrest): Oh, thank you. Well, I don’t think the – it’s necessary to have National Guard troops along the border. I think the solution to the illegal immigration problem lies with the false social security numbers that these illegals are using. Now, let – I want to read you one quote from a New York Times article. Quote, falsely using a social security number is a felony. The IRS knows who the guilty employees are and nothing’s being done about it. This was printed a couple of years ago and Congress and Border Patrol and everybody just looks the other way and lets the employers hire the illegals when they know they have false social security numbers and the Social Security Administration also looks the other way. Everybody’s looking the other way and where we’re putting troops on the border and drones and God knows what else for no sensible reason.

ST JOHN: Mel…

MEL: That’s my comment.

ST JOHN: Mel, thank you so much for that comment. And I guess I’ll throw it to Justin and say what’s your reaction when you do see, you know, not a lot of enforcement of, you know, the employment side of this equation and yet your job is to stop people from coming across.

DE LA TORRE: Well, again, the primary mission for the Border Patrol is detect – is to detect illegal entries at the first instance along the immediate border. And until that point where we can have a high probability of detection, that remains to be the Border Patrol’s primary mission.

ST JOHN: So, Kim, I guess I should ask you whether that’s one of the jobs of the National Guard while they’re deployed is to keep an eye perhaps also for people who might be working illegally. I mean, is this a time for employers who might be employing illegal immigrants to feel like, oh, there’s more eyes and ears now looking for my – at my business.

MAJOR HOLMAN: We’re faced with a lot of challenges out there in trying to gain operational control of the border. What our mission is though with the National Guard in this instance is to support as observers and reporting back to Border Patrol and, unfortunately, that’s just not something that’s within our mission this time around.

ST JOHN: So your mission is pretty tightly defined, to be supporting the Border Patrol along the border, whether it’s ocean or the actual border.

MAJOR HOLMAN: Right, we have entry identification teams out there who are helping to detect people coming across, and the other challenges are just going to have to be addressed in other ways.

ST JOHN: So let’s just follow up on what we were talking about before about operational control. And I wanted to find out whether more cooperation with your Mexican counterparts has been part of what’s given you more operational control. Justin.

DE LA TORRE: Well, we definitely have more cooperation from the law enforcement and the government of Mexico recently, and we do include the government agencies in Mexico in our planning and in our intelligence gathering process. So it definitely does play a factor where we can actually apply consequences to the criminal organizations in Mexico through the support of the government of Mexico.

ST JOHN: But, I mean, would you say that there is a sort of a change of the culture across the border between law enforcement agencies that somehow you and your Mexican counterparts are working more closely now than before?

DE LA TORRE: Yeah, we – It definitely was a cultural change for U.S. law enforcement to work that closely with the government of Mexico but those increases are there and the gains are, I think, apparent.

ST JOHN: And are they more focused on things like criminal activity like drug smuggling, gun smuggling rather than the average person trying to get across to get a job.

DE LA TORRE: Well, we do actually have programs that assist the government of Mexico in prosecuting people who are involved in human trafficking. I think what you’ll find with the criminal organizations that are exploiting the U.S. border and exploiting people who are vulnerable in Mexico is that they seek to earn – or, basically they seek to get money in whatever way possible. So whether it’s illegal drugs or humans or whatever the case may be, they’re going to do whatever it takes to get money. And when we look to target those criminal organizations, there’s not always a defining line between what it is, whether crim…

ST JOHN: Whether it’s drugs or people.

DE LA TORRE: Exactly.

ST JOHN: Okay. So perhaps the Mexican authorities are working with you much more closely on smugglers as such to try to catch the people who are responsible for the smuggling, yeah. How much cooperation do you get from the Mexican authorities for other, you know, just the people who are walking across the border on their own perhaps?

DE LA TORRE: Well, one common area where we call upon the Mexican government to assist us a lot is with assaults. Assaults in San Diego are down but we still have over 20 assaults this year alone where agents have been assaulted by people in the immediate border region and generally it’s through the use of throwing rocks or other objects at agents. And a lot of times they’re doing that from Mexico where we actually don’t have the ability to make an arrest. So that’s where we would call on the Mexican law enforcement to assist us on an immediate action basis. And they are, at times, available to assist and at – there are times where they’re not available to assist. So that assistance is greatly appreciated on our part.

ST JOHN: And I know there has been a lot of news a bit further east along the border of violence going beyond rock throwing and, you know, people actually being killed. But that doesn’t seem to be very prevalent at this point at all along the San Diego border, does it?

DE LA TORRE: Well, with Agent Rosas being brutally murdered last year, July 23rd of 2009, whether it’s one instance, it’s one that’s way too many. And that really hit – it hit hard for the Border Patrol and that’s not taken lightly, and there’s still – operational control has been gained as a result of that and we continue to gain operational control.

ST JOHN: Can you explain that in English for us?

DE LA TORRE: Well, subsequent to that, we were able to increase our resources and we also increased our planning processes with our local law enforcement agencies. And as a result, we’ve gained more operational control in that region specifically and in all of San Diego sector.

ST JOHN: Okay. All right. So, and one last question for you, Kim. The National Guard, presumably this is a whole different kettle of fish from being deployed to Afghanistan where you’re more likely to see a bomb than rocks being thrown at you. But, in general, the job that is being done here, is this deployment that is going to keep them for a year or how long is it – how much time is it going to keep them away from their families?

MAJOR HOLMAN: Well, depending on where they live in California, you know, they can go home on the weekends and visit and they get 30 days of leave per year that they’re able to go back. And one thing you mentioned that, you know, a lot of these guys are coming directly from being overseas in Iraq or Afghanistan, and this makes a very nice transitional mission for them. It’s not real high in, you know, combat and stress level but it’s not just sitting at a desk either. It’s something in between and it’s a very, very nice transitional mission for them.

ST JOHN: Good. Okay, well, listen, we really appreciate you coming in to the studio and talking to us about this because it’s obviously a sort of significant shift that’s happening here in our culture on the border in San Diego. So Major Kim Holman of the National Guard, thank you.

MAJOR HOLMAN: Thank you so much for having us.

ST JOHN: And Justin de la Torre, Special Operations supervisor for the Border Patrol, thank you, Justin.

DE LA TORRE: Well, thank you for having us.

ST JOHN: Great. So coming up, from the border we’ll be moving into our neighborhoods and after the break we’ll be talking about a new program to help parents get their kids to school safely. Stay with us.

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