DEL RIO, Texas – The deployment from the Arkansas National Guard for Operation Lone Star have started their service at the border between the United States and Mexico and are finding warm welcomes from local leaders in southern Texas.
The 11 guardsmen from the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade at Camp Robinson were called upon by Governor Asa Hutchinson to help Texas with the state’s border security.
They left the comforts of home Tuesday to lend a helping hand. They’re all vehicle mechanics with the mission of helping repair and maintain the vehicles of the Texas National Guard.
The Arkansas National Guard soldiers are not armed for this mission. The only equipment they’re taking with them is their standard military-issued toolboxes.
The soldiers will be stationed in the Del Rio and McAllen areas.
“There’s going be two separate groups,” 2nd Lt. Charles Davis of the Arkansas National Guard explained. “They’re going to split up once they get there.”
The guardsmen mechanics will be down there for about 80 days.
“Their primary mission is just to provide maintenance for the Texas National Guard vehicles,” Davis said.
Leaders in the Texas communities where the guardsmen are serving say they are grateful. Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano says the border crisis has only gotten worse since the beginning of the year, “because of the lack of planning, lack of responsibility on the federal level, broken policy, failed policy.”
Lozano said the majority of his community feels abandoned by the federal government, so when organizations like the Arkansas National Guard come to help, he’s thankful.
“It is very overwhelming for municipalities along the border to find a balance to a federal issue that does not seem to have any solutions,” he said.
Lozano explained that the Arkansas guardsmen taking over mechanical issues frees up Border Patrol agents.
“Anything that they can do to provide assistance, so the Border Patrol agent is out there on the field detaining individuals,” he said.
Beyond the duties they are performing, Lozano believes that just the presence of the Arkansas National Guard helps his citizens feel safer.
“Without them, it would be that much more chaotic here,” he said.
Davis said the Arkansas National Guard is happy to help.
“Our motto is we’re always ready, always there.”