Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Military helicopters will be used for border surveillance in Texas Valley

By Sergio Chapa

U.S. Army National Guard helicopters stationed at the Valley International Airport in Harlingen will be used for surveillance mission along the border.

Action 4 News broke the news that helicopters are being housed at Harlingen's Gulf Aviation on Monday.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesman Bill Brooks spoke to Action 4 News about the helicopters in a telephone interview from Washington DC.

Brooks said the helicopters are in the Rio Grande Valley as part of a surveillance mission.

Just a few months back, President Barack Obama said he would be changing his border security strategy along the U.S./Mexico border.

President Obama is shifting away from a "boots on the ground" approach to an "eyes in the sky" approach.

Brooks said some 500 National Guardsmen will be assisting CBP in keeping an eye on the entire southwest border using helicopters.

"They've got a job to do," Brooks said. "We'll see how they do."

The surveillance helicopers stationed in Harlingen do not have exterior gun turrets or rocket launchers.

A breakdown of how many helicopters and guardsman assigned to each area of the border was not immediately available.

But sources told Action 4 News that next nearest border city to get the National Guard helicoptes is Laredo.

Several Mexican military helicopters have been documented in the Rio Grande Valley.

Brooks said the National Guardsmen and CBP are in regular contact with their Mexican counterparts.