The Texas National Guard expanded Operation Lone Star to the far western city of El Paso. The movement of personnel, equipment and capabilities was in response to the unprecedented number of illegal border crossings in the area.
“I am so impressed with the OLS staff as well as the Soldiers from Task Force West,” said Maj. Gen. Ronald “Win” Burkett, Operation Lone Star Commanding Officer. “Over 400 personnel and 40 vehicles were repositioned in El Paso within a 72-hour time frame.”
The Guard can flex capabilities, equipment, and personnel anywhere along the border within a 72-hour window. The Texas Air National Guard provided four C-130J Hercules aircraft to expedite travel of personnel and vehicles to the far western region, and tactical troop movements took place all over Texas.
Proof of the Guard’s effectiveness against the numbers of illegal crossings is becoming more and more obvious with each passing day.
Day 1: Military vehicles, Soldiers, and concertina wire rolled onto the Rio Grande River’s edge. Only a few onlookers stood on the other side watching the activity. It was early in the morning and bitter cold. Within four-hours the number of onlookers increased, but no one challenged the swift work of Soldiers uncoiling the concertina wire.
Near nightfall, almost 500 immigrants stood at the wire asking the seven armed Soldiers to let them in. The crowd was made up of immigrants from Argentina, Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico, Russia, and Venezuela; men and women, both alone and with children, tried pleading, chanting, and singing. Law enforcement partners also explained the process for entering the United States legally and still the crowd stayed.
Day 2: The immigrants dissipated, leaving in the direction of the next legal crossing area. Soldiers stood behind the concertina wire with only occasional conversation across the river answering immigrants’ questions of where they go now.
The Triple strand concertina wire, with armed personnel and military vehicles, and fast fencing has turned the once illegal fast-path into a ghost town.
The Texas Department of Emergency Management also installed shipping containers to help deter illegal crossings. The Texas Department of Public Safety emplaced vehicle and officers, also working the line with the Soldiers.
The National Guard’s El Paso operation is now an enduring mission, as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s efforts to secure Texas’ southern border. The region will have over 600 troops and 100 military vehicles to support our law enforcement partners in this mission.
The mission remains for the Guardsmen to assist law enforcement partners to block and repel illegal crossings, as well as to interdict trans-national criminal activity from spilling across the border.