Dunleavy announces Alaska National Guard deployment along Mexico border

Gov. Mike Dunleavy prepares to speak about offering Alaska National Guard support for President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration on Feb. 15. Dunleavy announced a deployment Tuesday that will occur on April 1. (Screen capture of video from Dunleavy’s statement)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced on Tuesday that 10 Alaska Army National Guard soldiers will deploy along the U.S.-Mexico border on April 1.

The deployment is a response to President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency on the border on Feb. 15. Trump has said the flow of drugs, criminals and illegal immigrants are a threat to national security.

The soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment will assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection in support of aerial patrols. The announcement follows a request for National Guard volunteers through the National Guard Bureau.

“While this emergency may be thousands of miles away, we must be vigilant in our shared responsibility to address this crisis,” Dunleavy said in the announcement.

Dunleavy thanked the guardsmen and their families.

Adjutant General Torrence Saxe said the soldiers will provide air, reconnaissance and surveillance support. Helicopter pilots and aircraft maintenance personnel are among those who will fill Alaska’s requirement in Arizona over six months. Soldiers may be swapped out in cycles.

The announcement also said the deployment is not expected to affect any scheduled local training, deployments or domestic commitments, including fire suppression. The federal government is paying for the deployment.

Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at akitchenman@alaskapublic.org.

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