- Associated Press - Friday, August 15, 2014

HIDALGO, Texas (AP) - In a story Aug. 14 about the National Guard arriving on the Texas border, The Associated Press, relying on information from the Texas National Guard, reported erroneously that the deployments were part of the 1,000 troops ordered by Gov. Rick Perry. Texas National Guard Master Sgt. Ken Walker said the troops, which are part of a counterdrug task force, do not count toward Perry’s “Operation Strong Safety.”

A corrected version of the story is below:

National Guard troops arrive at Texas-Mexico border

National Guard troops take up observation posts along the Texas-Mexico border


Associated Press

HIDALGO, Texas (AP) - A new wave of National Guard troops has taken up observation posts along the Texas-Mexico border as part of the state’s Joint Counterdrug Task Force.

The several dozen soldiers deployed in the Rio Grande Valley this week are not part of the up to 1,000 troops called up by Gov. Rick Perry last month.

Several guardsmen were seen Thursday afternoon manning an observation tower along the busy road leading to the Hidalgo International Bridge.

The soldiers are specifically trained to man such observation towers in the area belonging to local law enforcement agencies and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Texas National Guard Master Sgt. Ken Walker of the Joint Counterdrug Task Force said Thursday. They will serve as extra eyes on the border and report suspicious activity to authorities.

A Customs and Border Protection document viewed by The Associated Press indicated that guardsmen would be manning CBP towers in Hidalgo and Starr counties, as well as towers for the Hidalgo and Pharr police departments and the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office.

“They’re just there for support,” Walker said of the soldiers who entered the field this week after training in the area last week. “We’re just trying to give some relief to the guys at Customs and Border Protection” and other law enforcement agencies. He said the duration of their deployment was not set, but that current funding for their mission only runs through September.

The guardsmen seen Thursday dressed in camouflage uniforms were manning a Hidalgo police tower.

Hidalgo Police Chief Rodolfo Espinoza said he would normally not have his department’s two towers manned. They have cameras that can pan the area and record activity, but having a person that can recognize something suspicious and report it is more valuable, he said.

“It is good to have them,” Espinoza said of the soldiers. “It is a positive benefit for everybody.”

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