AUSTIN — About a third of the 1,200 National Guard troops that President Barack Obama ordered to the U.S.-Mexico border are now in place, a National Guard spokesman said Wednesday, while disputing reports that the deployment is behind schedule.
"We're on schedule; we're on track," Jack Harrison, communications director for the National Guard Bureau, told reporters in a conference call. About 420 Guard personnel have been deployed among the four states bordering Mexico since the operation began in July, Harrison said.
Army Col. Bill Meehan, public affairs director for Texas Military Forces, told the Star-Telegram that the deployment is also on schedule in Texas, although he declined to discuss specific numbers. Harrison also would not discuss the number of troops now deployed in each state.
Texas is slated to get 286 troops, a number that Gov. Rick Perry has blasted as woefully insufficient to help strengthen security along the state's 1,200-mile border with Mexico. Perry outlined his concerns in a four-page letter to Obama when the president arrived in Texas for a daylong visit Monday.
Border security is on a list of contentious issues between Perry and Obama administration officials. In an Aug. 4 letter, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Perry that her department has dedicated "historical levels of personnel technology and resources" to the Southwest border.
The Border Patrol now has more than 20,000 agents, double the number from 2004, Napolitano said. A $600 million border security measure the House approved this week would authorize 1,500 more law enforcement agents, along with aerial surveillance drones and other technology.
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