HARRISBURG (PRNewswire) – Gov. Edward G. Rendell has authorized the Pennsylvania National Guard to allow up to 500 soldiers and
airmen to volunteer to deploy to Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas for up to 90 days to patrol along the U.S.-Mexico border in support of
Operation Jump Start.
In a related action, Gov. Rendell signed a modified addendum to the Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Defense and the governors of the border states.
“I would not sign a Memorandum of Agreement without making it clear that the commonwealth, as a state sending soldiers and airmen to perform
this mission, retains command and control and the right to review these deployments,” the governor said. “We also have the right to recall these
personnel to Pennsylvania at any time we need them to perform emergency duty here.”
Operation Jump Start, directed by President George W. Bush, is the name given to the deployment of 6,000 United States National Guard troops along the 1,300-mile United States-Mexico border to help stem the flow of illegal immigrants. Pennsylvania National Guard personnel will support the National Guard of the border states and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency by operating surveillance systems, analyzing intelligence, installing fences and vehicle barriers, building patrol roads and providing training.
“We plan to send our soldiers and airmen in increments of about 100 personnel between next month and September,” said Maj. Gen. Jessica L.
Wright, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general. “Since these troops will be deployed in a federally funded duty status there will be no cost incurred
by the commonwealth.”
Pennsylvania has one of the largest and most deployed guards in the nation. Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 16,000 of its members have deployed in support of the Global War on Terror. In September, the Pennsylvania National Guard sent 2,500 soldiers to support hurricane relief efforts along the Gulf Coast. In late June, the Pennsylvania National Guard played a lead role in emergency response as record levels of rainfall deluged portions of the state. At the height of flooding, more than 1,000 guard members were involved in water rescues, evacuations and other emergency operations.