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National Guard troops on border acting as deterrent and extra sets of eyes, captain says

They have rifles and pistols but the Texas National Guard troops on the Rio Grande are on the border with Mexico only...

Posted: Apr 11, 2018 11:14 AM
Updated: Apr 11, 2018 11:14 AM

They have rifles and pistols but the Texas National Guard troops on the Rio Grande are on the border with Mexico only as physical deterrents and observers, a soldier told CNN on Tuesday from an observation post overlooking the river.

Troops are providing an extra set of eyes and ears -- in this case as many as 12 extra sets -- to Border Patrol agents, said a captain, who asked not to be named for security reasons.

"Essentially our guys are out here as a physical deterrent operation and to report to our local law enforcement partners of what it is that we see (as far as) any illegal activities," the captain said.

On a warm and humid afternoon, the captain showed CNN two observation posts where troops, equipped with binoculars and a long-range surveillance system, scanned the river separating the United States and Mexico after President Donald Trump ordered thousands of troops to the border to increase security.

The captain told CNN that about four minutes after the media convoy left the first observation point, soldiers noticed a raft coming across the water. The Guardsmen radioed local law enforcement, including Border Patrol, who took it from there. It wasn't immediately clear whether the people on the raft were doing anything wrong.

But the captain said about the mission, "if they spot anything that may potentially make it across the river, it is safe to say it's probably an illegal activity."

The captain wasn't able to speak about operational details, like when rules of engagement would allow soldiers to use their weapons. He said he wasn't aware of Texas National Guard troops having to use their firearms in any previous US deployments along the border.

But "we want our troops to be safe out here," the captain said.

These troops are part of a contingent of 250 soldiers and airmen initially deployed. Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Monday the state is preparing to increase its National Guard presence to more than 1,000 troops along the state's 1,254-mile long border with Mexico. He said troop strength will grow by about 300 troops per week until all department of homeland security requirements are met.

Not all the troops will be at observation points or need to carry self-defense weapons, officials say.

US law limits what the troops can do. Federal law prohibits the military from being used to enforce laws, meaning troops cannot actually participate in immigration enforcement. Officials tell CNN many will serve in additional supporting roles to the Border Patrol, like training, construction and intelligence gathering.

Trump said last week he will deploy 2,000 to 4,000 troops to the US border with Mexico.

Sending National Guard troops to the Mexico border is not unprecedented. Both of Trump's predecessors did so, though the moves were criticized as costly and of limited effectiveness.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 343505

Reported Deaths: 7543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23932444
DeSoto23229283
Harrison20527329
Rankin15411291
Jackson15232252
Madison10959227
Lee10719179
Jones9047169
Forrest8723159
Lauderdale7884244
Lowndes7054151
Lamar702989
Lafayette6548124
Washington5595139
Pearl River5196152
Bolivar4954134
Oktibbeha494398
Panola4771112
Warren4728128
Marshall4701106
Pontotoc447773
Union433279
Monroe4330137
Neshoba4281181
Hancock428088
Lincoln4176116
Pike3667113
Leflore3627125
Tate353388
Alcorn350974
Sunflower347694
Scott341176
Adams340988
Yazoo339376
Copiah324968
Simpson322891
Itawamba314680
Coahoma314085
Tippah306568
Prentiss298863
Covington293484
Leake285475
Marion284181
Wayne277543
George272251
Grenada269488
Newton262364
Tishomingo239770
Winston236784
Jasper230648
Stone229637
Attala226373
Chickasaw219060
Holmes200174
Clay197654
Clarke186880
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181332
Smith179235
Yalobusha171540
Walthall145748
Lawrence142826
Greene140134
Amite137543
Noxubee135235
Perry133538
Montgomery133044
Carroll126431
Webster121232
Jefferson Davis116734
Tunica114227
Benton106725
Claiborne105331
Kemper102429
Humphreys100133
Franklin87923
Quitman84719
Choctaw82619
Wilkinson78032
Jefferson71328
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 585607

Reported Deaths: 11536
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson851431591
Mobile48584864
Madison37411533
Shelby27192257
Tuscaloosa27145465
Montgomery26119627
Baldwin25207329
Lee17184181
Calhoun15382334
Morgan15147291
Etowah14928370
Marshall13079235
Houston12021293
Elmore10890219
St. Clair10737252
Limestone10699158
Cullman10503205
Lauderdale10240254
DeKalb9498192
Talladega8935188
Walker7775288
Autauga7537114
Jackson7384117
Blount7352139
Colbert6691142
Coffee6342132
Dale5605117
Russell478943
Chilton4763117
Covington4738125
Franklin456681
Tallapoosa4511156
Escambia439283
Chambers3936125
Dallas3742163
Clarke370563
Marion3455107
Pike332079
Lawrence3257100
Winston298373
Bibb289765
Geneva282883
Marengo262267
Barbour250661
Pickens245262
Butler240172
Hale235178
Fayette226765
Henry212845
Monroe201541
Randolph200344
Cherokee198848
Washington184339
Macon169752
Crenshaw167758
Clay165659
Cleburne161145
Lamar150938
Lowndes145355
Wilcox132331
Bullock126542
Conecuh120632
Coosa118129
Perry110328
Sumter110333
Greene99137
Choctaw64425
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