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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    PARADISE (San Diego)

    National Guard braves elements to guard border

    Published: June 10, 2011
    Updated: June 12, 2011 9:13 a.m.

    National Guard braves elements to guard border


    Want to sleep better?

    Join me in the San Ysidro Mountains across from Tijuana with the U.S. Border Patrol and the National Guard.

    Something dark, whisper-quiet and evil is in the air. Like a giant stealth winged creature it soars, invisible in the night.

    This isn't about catching moms, dads and kids sneaking across the border, although that happens. It's about something more significant – so much so that men and women in uniform, many parents in their own right, volunteer for the mission.

    In camouflage and Kevlar helmets, they stand vigil in these rocky, rugged mountains peering into the inky blackness.

    It's cold and mind-numbingly boring – until the bat appears.


    Much has been said about illegal immigration; about the ethics of a giant fence and the mindset of those who patrol our border.

    The reality is that many of the people who actually perform the task — often in extreme temperatures, rain and gale-force winds — don't see their mission as having all that much to do with illegal immigration.

    More than anything, they see their job as getting bad guys and saving lives – of people on both sides of the border.

    In a black four-wheel drive, we bounce up a dirt road. The range's highest peak is Otay Mountain at 3,566 feet. The steep, rugged land is more suited to mountain lion than human.

    But the men and women I'm with, mostly National Guard, are battle-hardened. Some are former Marines. Several served in Iraq and lost close friends.

    Here, the Guard's mission is to serve as extra eyes and ears for the Border Patrol. Compared to Iraq, Capt. Gerald Kim calls this operation "cake."

    Kim, a UCI graduate with a degree in criminology, says he's here to "protect our country's borders and support national security."

    His words may sound cliché. But consider that as Kim says this he is standing on a ridge at sunset, and that he's responsible for securing a series of escarpments and ravines stretching to the eastern horizon.


    Standing on a patch of rocky ground and dressed in Border Patrol green with a sidearm on his right hip, Rodolfo Zuniga details what he calls the San Diego sector. It's 114 miles of coastline, 7,000 square miles and a 60-mile stretch of border with a bizarre history.

    In the early 1990s, the sector was, well, nuts. The border was a patchwork of chain-link fencing, barbwire and cable. On a six-mile stretch from San Ysidro to the ocean, there were 1,000 apprehensions a day, 25 percent of the nation's total.

    Today, there's a primary fence made of Vietnam War scrap and a 13-mile stretch of what's called "secondary fencing," a high-tech 14-foot obstacle dotted with motion and magnetic sensors, lights, cameras and the occasional tower.

    Apprehensions in the entire San Diego sector have dropped to 100 a day.

    Zuniga attributes much of the success to Border Patrol increases. In 2007, for example, there were 1,700 agents in the San Diego sector. Today there are 2,500.

    Additionally, in 2006 President Bush deployed 6,000 National Guard for two years to support the Border Patrol. President Obama brought back the National Guard in 2010 with 1,200 troops. The White House is asking Congress for $30 million to extend the effort another three months.

    As the lights of Tijuana start to flick on in the gathering dusk, Major Kimberly Holman explains that 260 armed National Guard troops support the San Diego sector.

    Staff Sgt. Chris Luzader scans the wilderness on the U.S. side. With a wife, two adult daughters and a four-year-old girl in Lake Forest, Luzader has roamed these mountains since last August.

    An active Marine from 1986-95, Luzader is proud of his service. Considering the impact of the Border Patrol-National Guard's one-two punch, the grandfather of two deserves to be proud.


    In 2008, the San Diego sector saw a record 162,390 apprehensions. Last fiscal year, that dropped to 68,565. Since October, there have been some 27,000 apprehensions, a drop of 38 percent which he attributes to better security. During that time, estimates on the number of illegal immigrants getting into the United States

    For Zuniga, the fewer apprehensions, the better. This isn't hide-n-seek. Patrols are highly visible. The goal is to stop people from crossing before they start.

    It's the deaths that trouble Zuniga the most. Last fiscal year, there were 24 deaths. Already this year, there have been eight deaths. And summer's deadly heat has yet to arrive.

    Zuniga blames the increase in deaths to the harsh winter. He works to get the word out that criminal organizations prey on illegal aliens and treat them as cargo. He says illegal aliens pay coyotes as much as $3,000 to go by land, $9,000 by sea. Often, they are ripped off or left to die.

    Then there are the drugs.


    Master Sgt. Gina Cali, daughter of a Marine, resident of Orange and a Los Angeles Sheriff's deputy, uses the day's last light to examine the hillsides with a pair of high-tech binoculars.

    Cali sets the binoculars aside to talk about the mission which, these days, includes tunnels, boats and something relatively new – ultra light planes that resemble bats.

    It's the unknown that especially concerns Cali. "You don't know if a terrorist is coming through."

    It's close to 9 p.m. and we're enveloped in darkness. An rotating infra-red camera scans the terrain and sky.

    The cartels call such cameras "devil's eyes."

    Capt. Kim sits inside a jeep, toggle in hand maneuvering the all-seeing eye. A black and white screen not much larger than a smartphone lights up his suntanned face. The radio suddenly comes to life.

    "We have a confirmed ultralight."

    Sgt. Gerald Powell, just outside the jeep, reports there's an "Omaha," a Boarder Patrol helicopter, moving in, lights off.

    Kim works the toggle. He spots a black spot with wings. Black signifies heat. "Got him."

    The radio crackles. "He's heading south."

    "Lost him," Kim says.

    It's believed the pilot dropped behind a ridge, aborted his load and scooted back to Mexico.

    I feel violated. But I suspect that's nothing compared to how the pilot will feel when the cartel discovers he abandoned his shipment.

    Sleep well.

    David Whiting's column appears four days a week
    Contact the writer: ... ional.html

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member forest's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    God Bless these good people.
    As Aristotle said, “Tolerance and apathy are the first virtue of a dying civilization.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    God keep them safe. We need to pull the troops out of the Middle East and deploy to the border in full force. No need to worry about losing a target. With enough troops out there no cartel move will be made to enter the US and NO ILLEGALS will try to cross the border. Arm these guys with orders to use max force to stop intruders. No questions, no hault and turn around. Post in spanish signs that indicate crossing the border is most certainly dangerous to your health. Perhaps set up some prayer spots (mod edit).

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