TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The first Arizona National Guard members bound for the border should arrive at Border Patrol Nogales station by Friday.
Major General Michael T. McGuire, Director of the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, made the announcement Wednesday at a press conference.
"Ultimately our objective for this mission is to surge badges to the border," he said. "Put more enforcement agents out there to stem the tide of illicit activity, as we have year after year, hopefully mitigate any potential loss of life for people out in the austere environment of the desert."
McGuire said the first 266 troops have been briefed. The 338 total consists of 226 on the ground and 112 focused on aviation.
The latter will be headquartered at the Silverbell Heliport at Pinal Air Park. Everyone else on the ground will be assigned to the various Border Patrol stations around the state.
Nogales will receive the first sixty on Friday with the rest, who have been processed and cleared, expected to be assigned by Saturday, according to McGuire. He said the current challenge is securing housing for everyone in their assignment locations.
"It really is a bigger obstacle than actually what they're doing for their eight-hour duty shift in support of Customs and Border Patrol (sp)."
Duties for these National Guard members could be anything from communications, transportation, surveillance, even infrastructure maintenance. McGuire said they may be repairing roads or busted border fencing, but they will not be assisting with any construction of a new wall.
None of the missions assigned to these troops require them to be armed, according to McGuire. He said that doesn't mean some won't be, but it's just not required for the specific duties.
Those working out of the Marana facility will provide pilot, crew and maintenance support.
As the Adjutant General, McGuire said he's submitted budget requests every year for the last five years. Each one had a request for what he believed the Arizona National Guard needed to support communities around the state. He said it always came back with less money than he had hoped, so the current mission is a welcomed one.
"We're very satisfied that DOD has stepped up to work in collaboration with DHS to provide the funding for this now," he said.
Operation Guardian Shield will be a support mission similar to previous ones handled by the Arizona National Guard, according to McGuire.