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Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - 8:33pm
Bastrop, TX (Texas Tribune) — Texas Governor Rick Perry was in Bastrop County Wednesday to check on the progress of his executive order to deploy 1000 Texas National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border to help secure the border.
He spent part of Wednesday observing the training Texas national guardsmen and women are undergoing on Camp Swift in Bastrop County as part of Operation Strong Safety.
Perry said the mission is already proving successful. For the past five weeks, the state has appropriated an additional $1.3 million dollars per week to the Texas Department of Public Safety to pay for Texas Ranger reconnaissance teams that Perry said have led to a 56-percent reduction in apprehensions in targeted areas.
“You are now the tip of the spear protecting Americans from these cartels and gangs," said Perry.
Before Perry headed out to the nearby firing range, he spoke to dozens of National Guard members about the importance of their new role to deter so-called ‘narco terrorists’ drug cartels and traffickers crossing the border, as well as assist the Department of Public Safety in safely apprehending those crossing illegally.
The guard members will use specialized equipment to keep watch on the border.
Details of their deployment, including when and where, will not be disclosed for security reasons, but Perry assured the soldiers that the state would find a way to pay them for their time beyond mid-October, when the current funding is expected to run out.
“I know the people of the state of Texas will support them," said Perry.
Guard officials said the bulk of the first wave of soldiers that will head to the border are training at Camp Swift.
Officials at Wednesday’s briefing said that about 2,200 national guardsmen and airmen have volunteered to support Operation Strong Safety, which is more than twice the number Perry requested.
Texas officials have petitioned Washington to reimburse it for its efforts, as well as allow security officials to use drones for surveillance along the border.
Perry said they are still awaiting a response.