- The Washington Times - Friday, May 19, 2006

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — President Bush’s planned deployment of National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border would last at least two years, according to a Pentagon memo obtained yesterday by the Associated Press.

The one-page “initial guidance” memo to National Guard leaders in border states does not address the estimated cost of the mission or when troops would be deployed. But high-ranking officials in the California National Guard said they were told yesterday that deployments would not begin before early June.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who has not yet decided whether to commit troops to the mission, led a conference call with the governors of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to discuss the memo.

“There still remains a lot of unanswered questions that the governor is concerned about,” said Adam Mendelsohn, Mr. Schwarzenegger’s communications director. “Most specifically, the outstanding funding issues and whether there is a commitment to the two-year time frame,” he said.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, said they would support the deployment of National Guard troops to the border, while New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, has been more critical of the plan.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Perry said the governors agreed to send a letter asking the Bush administration to clarify issues such as funding, rotation and troop levels that would be stationed in each of the states.

The president outlined the plan Monday night as part of a national address on curbing illegal aliens.

He proposed deploying 6,000 troops at a time to the border in two-week rotations. The deployments would be temporary, he said, until enough Border Patrol agents were hired to secure the mission. Mr. Bush asked Congress to add 6,000 more Border Patrol agents by the end of his presidency.

The White House also said the troops would be financed with part of the $1.9 billion requested from Congress this year to supplement border enforcement.

The memo sent yesterday said that units would remain in a “federally funded” mission for “up to one year, with a force reduction to 3,000 during the second year.”

The document described an “end date” for the mission when the Border Patrol operation “gains independent operational control of the [Southwest border] and National Guard forces are no longer required for this mission.”

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