Union Tribune

March 12, 2002

Over objections, troops on border to be unarmed

TOBY ECKERT 
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE 

WASHINGTON The National Guard troops being dispatched to
the nation's borders will not be armed, raising concerns among
some Guard officials.

Federal officials say the troops won't be performing direct law
enforcement functions and don't need to be armed. The decision
may also reflect the Bush administration's desire to avoid the
appearance of militarizing the border.

But a spokesman for the California National Guard said
commanders are wary of the decision and have pressed their
case with Pentagon officials.

"I think there's some concerns with the adjutant generals that
some of their troops are going out there unarmed," said Lt. Col.
Terry Knight.

The federal government ordered 1,600 Guard troops to the
borders with Mexico and Canada to supplement the Customs,
Border Patrol and Immigration and Naturalization Service
agents already there.

The move reflects the heightened security at the borders since
Sept. 11. Officials with the three border agencies say their
personnel are overworked and need the help until more civilian
agents can be hired.

The troops will help with traffic control and assist inspectors
checking vehicles for contraband.

"They will not be performing any law enforcement duties that
would require them to carry a firearm. They will be working in
federal areas that will have ample numbers of armed federal
officers to provide for security," said INS spokesman Russ
Bergeron.