Dec 1, 2010 12:54 PM

National Guard troops help secure border

NOGALES - It's been almost two months since Operation Copper Cactus went into full effect.

Over 500 National Guard troops are positioned along the Arizona-Mexico border in an effort to help border patrol agents secure it.

News 4 was granted exclusive access to the operation room where dozens of monitors are located.

A National Guardsman mans his post behind cameras that capture illegal activity on the border. He was trained by Border Patrol agents to operate the high tech systems.

The cameras show people in Mexico. In one area, an individual has crossed over into the US. The Guardsman relays the information to the agents.

Agent Jason Rheinfrank says, "They are giving us an extra set of eyes and ears out in the field definitely acting as a force multiplier, so we're able to spread out with more manpower out in the field."

This makes it possible to apprehend more illegal border crossers, he says.

In addition to the eyes in the control room, the guardsman watches over the border fence, helping border patrol complete their mission.

One guardsman tells News 4: "It's been a challenge, but you learn from it and you get the mission accomplished."

The troops stand armed with M-16's along the border. They observe and report movement. The weapons are for protection; they can't arrest anyone, but they're able to see through high-tech night vision goggles so border patrol can make the arrests.

"I think everybody feels a sense of pride and accomplishment because we are doing our part to secure our community," says one guardsman.


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