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California National Guard Troops Arrive In San Diego Ahead Of Border Duty

Members of the California National Guard Counterdrug Task Force receive train...

Credit: U.S. Department of Defense

Above: Members of the California National Guard Counterdrug Task Force receive training Aug. 5 at Camp San Luis Obispo.

The California National Guard is arriving in San Diego over the next few days. The group of mainly volunteers has begun reporting to the armory in Kearny Mesa.

Roughly 250 troops were called up April 28 to Camp Roberts in San Miguel. Then they headed south to San Diego for what is called Operation Guardian Support. Troops won’t be housed in tents near the border. Instead, the troops from out of town are finding hotel rooms in the city, according to the National Guard.

Once in the field, they will work mainly for with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. As part of the agreement worked out with Gov. Jerry Brown, their assignments will be vetted by National Guard commanders at the armory before troops embed with Homeland Security.

According to a statement issued by the California Guard, the troops' roles could include “counterdrug surveillance, intelligence analysis, camera monitoring, paralegal work, telecommunications equipment installation and maintenance, heavy equipment operation, physical infrastructure maintenance, and administrative and logistical assistance.”

Troops will work mainly in San Diego and El Centro in support roles, like radio dispatching and monitoring cameras. They are not supposed to have contact with immigration enforcement, that includes transporting or guarding facilities that house detainees.

The guard reports they are ahead of schedule. It took 77 days to get up to full capacity when the California guard deployed along the border in 2006 and 58 days in 2010. The rest of this contingent is expected in San Diego by next week.

The commitment by the governor runs through Sept. 30, though Operation Guardian Support remains open-ended, leaving the possibility that the federal government may ask to extend the agreement with California.

Under this arrangement, California has agreed to call up as many as 400 troops. All of the border states combined have offered roughly 2,000 troops of the 4,000 troops requested by President Donald Trump's administration.

The California National Guard is arriving in San Diego over the next few days. The group of mainly volunteers has begun reporting to the armory in Kearney Mesa.

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Steve Walsh
Military Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover military and veterans issues for KPBS and American Homefront, a partnership of public radio stations and NPR. I cover issues ranging from delpoying troops along the California border to efforts to lower suicide rates among veterans.

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