National Guard Chief Says Troops Mass at Southern Border Can Backfire

( – A National Guard chief preparing to retire is cautioning against deploying troops to the southern border, which he said could cause more problems than it would solve.

National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Daniel Hokanson appeared before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on defense budgets to give testimony on Tuesday, June 18. During that hearing, Hokanson said around 2,500 National Guard troops are currently stationed at the US-Mexico border.

Hokanson, who is due to retire in September, reminded the subcommittee that he has expressed such views before while on the job. He said that stationing troops at the border has “no military training value” for National Guardsmen. He also said that protecting the border should remain “a law enforcement mission” under the DOJ.

The administration of former President Donald Trump also used National Guard troops to provide extra support for US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to secure the border, although the problem was more manageable under Trump-era policies. Immigration spiked dramatically throughout Biden’s time in office. In 2023, over 2.4 million encounters were recorded at the US-Mexico border.

The outgoing National Guard chief general’s testimony comes on the heels of efforts by Biden to repair his reputation relating to the border. On June 4, the president signed an executive order that would allow asylum requests to be temporarily suspended when the daily amount of encounters exceeds 2,500.

It’s also no longer just Republicans blasting Biden over the crisis. The heat is coming from his side, as well. Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, said during the hearing that under the current administration’s “failed border policies,” things have only “gotten worse.”

Hokanson’s main complaint about National Guardsmen at the border is that they aren’t being trained in any way that is “directly applicable to their skills.” He said that although he understands the “additional support” the troops provide, their deployment puts their “readiness to deter” American foreign adversaries at risk.

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