12/18/06, Little Rock AFB, AR—Approximately 75 Soldiers of the Arkansas Army National Guard's 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from around the state deployed from here Saturday, December 16, 2006, to relieve their comrades pulling duty with Operation Jump Start on the U.S. - Mexico border.

Operation Jump Start is a support mission to the Department of Homeland Security and the Customs and Border Patrol Service (CBP). Particular support activities performed by the Guard in the operation include: manning surveillance and reconnaissance outposts, transportation (both air and ground), engineering for border construction and maintenance as well as logistics and supply functions.

The troops that these 75 Soldiers are replacing are rotating home from a six month deployment in the high desert of southwest New Mexico.

The initial package from Arkansas deployed to New Mexico on July 10, 2006, and began to establish the working relationship with the CBP and build the military network behind the scenes that supports the remote mission locations throughout the desert region. The Soldiers were divided into two groups—the duration force and the rotation force. The duration force is a small contingent which is dedicated to the mission and will remain in place for the entire two years of the mission. These personnel are aligned with command
and control positions for the overall force maintenance and management in such career fields as personnel, medical and finance. The rotation force is limited to six months on-station before rotating back home.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Service, National Guard support of CBP operations continues to have a positive impact on border security efforts on the southwest border. The CBP credits the National Guard with the seizure of nearly 80,000 pounds of marijuana and over 2,000 pounds of cocaine since the operation began last June. And since the inception of Operation Jump Start, the National Guard has also assisted the CBP with the arrest of 21,400 undocumented aliens, the seizure of 314 vehicles and the rescue of 71 persons.

The new Soldiers will have about four days overlap with their colleagues to get trained on the systems, locations, Border Patrol procedures and logistics before they take over the mission. The Soldiers being relieved should return home by December 22nd, in time for Christmas with their families.

With this deployment, the Arkansas National Guard has approximately 280 Soldiers and Airmen supporting Operation Jump Start at locations in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.