SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday announced the first of 224 soldiers and airmen have completed their training to go operational in the field with border patrol agents, with expectations of becoming fully operational on September 1. The Governor made the announcement while visiting California National Guard (CNG) service members who have been deployed to support U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on the California-Mexico border, where he also received a briefing from state and federal officials on the status of the mission.

“I take great pride in serving as Commander-in-Chief of the California National Guard. Our soldiers and airmen are true action heroes who respond to disasters at home and overseas. Today, our National Guard has been called to help secure the border and protect the safety of the American people, and I am proud that we are the first state to have our troops trained and operational for this mission,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “These men and women will provide much needed assistance to help secure our border, but it’s important to remember that this is only the beginning. We must find a permanent solution to our broken immigration system. We need the federal government to step up with even more manpower and funding, and I will continue to push President Obama and Congress for action.”

Last month, the Governor directed CNG to temporarily support federal efforts to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, in support of President Barack Obama’s proposal to deploy 1,200 National Guard personnel along the southwest border of the U.S. The deployment is for up to one year in support of counternarcotics and border security operations. Following the Governor’s directing, CNG soldiers and airmen began their training at Camp Roberts, California.

“The California National Guard is proud to be at the forefront of homeland security, helping to secure our nation’s borders,” said Adjutant General Brigadier General Mary J. Kight. “Our soldiers and airmen bring a high level of civilian career expertise and military training to the mission that allows them to be a superb force multiplier to the Border Patrol.”

CNG will be performing a variety of duties including entry identification and criminal analysis. Entry Identification teams will provide additional assistance to CBP, watching from strategic remote sites and reporting any suspicious activity to patrolling agents.

The Governor has long believed that more border patrol agents are needed to reduce illegal border crossings and end human trafficking and the influx of narcotics:

•In June 2006, he issued General Order Number 2006-01 directing the California National Guard to temporarily support federal efforts to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.
•Leading up to the ending of Operation Jump Start, the Governor sent a letter to President Bush in February 2008 requesting that the program be extended because the operational objective was only half complete.
•This letter was followed by a joint letter sent in April 2008 with Governor Schwarzenegger and the governors of Arizona and New Mexico urging Congressional leaders to support an extension until the federal government’s operational objective of 6,000 border patrol agents had been added to the force.
•In April 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger again joined the governors of the southwest border states in sending a letter to Congressional leaders, this time urging the full funding of the National Guard Counter-Drug Program to add additional personnel to the four southwest border states and ensure that the funding remains sufficient to reach a significant decline in border drug trafficking and violence.