ARIZONA NEWS

Former Arizona National Guard leader says Biden’s border troops plan is flawed

May 3, 2023, 10:17 AM

In this 2018 file photo, soldiers with deploy concertina wire along the Southwest border of the Uni...

In this 2018 file photo, soldiers with deploy concertina wire along the Southwest border of the United States near Hidalgo, Texas. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection File Photo)

(U.S. Customs and Border Protection File Photo)

PHOENIX – The former leader of the Arizona National Guard said he isn’t sold on the Biden administration’s plan to send federal troops to the border to help deal with the expected surge of migrants following the end of Title 42 next week.

Retired Maj. Gen. Mick McGuire, who served as the state’s adjutant general from 2013 until he retired in 2021, capping a 34-year military career, said Wednesday the move does little more than fill gaps left when President Joe Biden cut federal funding for National Guard border support after taking office in 2021.

“We had just in Arizona alone authorization for 1,700 National Guardsmen to be fully funded by the federal government, and he zeroed out that funding,” McGuire told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

“Now, he’s going to put 1,500 back, which is certainly appropriate, but a drop in the bucket.”

Military personnel are being sent to do data entry, warehouse support and other administrative tasks in an effort to manage overcrowding and other possible issues that might arise when the COVID-era Title 42 immigration restrictions end May 11.

Under the plan revealed Tuesday, Army and Marine Corps troops will be deployed for 90 days so that U.S. Customs and Border Protection can focus on fieldwork. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will look to backfill with National Guard or Reserve troops during that period, a Pentagon spokesman said. There are already 2,500 National Guard members at the border.

McGuire said the U.S. military’s lack of local knowledge will limit what the troops can contribute.

“They’re very unfamiliar with the terrain,” he said of the federal troops. “They don’t know the local agents, and … by the time they’re up to speed, they’re turning around and leave again.”

McGuire, who was a candidate in Arizona’s Republican U.S. Senate primary last year, also said the timeline itself is another potentially problematic aspect of Biden’s plan.

“When you give the cartels a beginning and an end date … they’ll just wait for 90 days to ramp back up illicit activity,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Former Arizona National Guard leader says Biden’s border troops plan is flawed