Obama could send 1,500 National Guard troops to Mexican border

If enacted, the plan would more than double the force at the border in an effort to staunch drug violence that has killed at least 11,000 in Mexico since 2006.

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With Mexico sliding deeper into violence, President Obama could be preparing to send 1,500 National Guard soldiers to shore up the border.

Senior administration officials say the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security are hashing out the plan, according to the Associated Press. If enacted, it would more than double the current National Guard operation at the border, which consists of 575 Guard members. The program would ask for National Guard volunteers to go to the border, and would not last longer than a year.

There is little doubt that Washington has to take a tough stance on Mexico. Since 2006, nearly 11,000 people have died in Mexico in drug-related violence, the latest 12 people killed in a shootout this week. The violence is creeping northward, prompting the governors of four states – Texas, Arizona, California, and New Mexico – to ask for help.

But many are questioning the wisdom of the sending the National Guard, saying it risks further involving the military in domestic security, stretching the military too thin, and inflaming an already caustic national debate on immigration.

Al Tompkins, a columnist at the Poynter Institute in Florida, writes on his blog Al's Morning Meeting:

President Barack Obama has asked Congress for a quarter of a billion dollars to send troops to the border but also said he does not want to set a military zone between the US and Mexico, according to The Washington Post. And there is a question about who would control the forces – Homeland Security or the Defense Department.
But there are other issues. If we need that much additional security on the borders, shouldn't border agencies be given the manpower they need without relying on the already overstretched military?

The call for the National Guard has sparked a debate about the role of military in domestic security, reports The Washington Post.

The debate goes to the heart of the military's role, which has expanded since the 2001 terrorist attacks, with an increasing commitment of troops and resources to homeland defense, particularly to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear attack or other domestic catastrophe. Deploying new troops to the border would represent a mission the military has not traditionally embraced.
"What we're seeing here is a move toward reframing where defense begins and ends," said Bert B. Tussing, director of homeland defense and security issues at the US Army War College's Center for Strategic Leadership. "Traditionally the military looks outward, but looking outward has begun a lot closer to home, and it may involve looking just across the border."

Alberto Vargas, a blogger in San Diego for Examiner.com, wonders how the National Guard proposal will affect discussions on immigration.

Obviously, many in the border communities, including San Diego, will see this reported action as a hostile act. This has been one of the hotly debated issues in such regions. Some may interpret this as an attempt at slowing illegal immigration, again, a fiery issue, especially here in California.
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