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Pentagon agrees to fund border troops through year’s end

More than 1,000 National Guard troops will remain on the Southwest border at least through the end of December.

After months of wrangling over how to pay for keeping 1,200 National Guard troops in position along the border, the Department of Defense has agreed to cover the approximately $10 million in monthly costs through the end of this calendar year, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters in Washington on Thursday.

"[The Department of Defense] found the money” to extend the guard beyond Sept. 30, when funding was slated to run out, said Napolitano.

“They’ve been a very helpful part of our border strategy,” said Napolitano.

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National Guard troops have manned observation posts, built fences and monitored surveillance footage in support of the Border Patrol since August of last year.

The National Guard is not authorized to make arrests of people crossing the border illegally.

The deployment was part of a $600-million funding package that enabled the Homeland Security Department to hire 1,000 additional Border Patrol agents, 250 officers at ports of entries and 250 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Napolitano said the National Guard troops will be needed on the border until all of the new agents are hired, trained and can take over the support roles now filled by the Guard.

Since August 2010, the National Guard deployment on the Southwest border has cost the Department of Defense approximately $125 million.

The three-month extension will give the two departments time to develop “long-term, more operationally effective, less costly alternatives” to keeping the National Guard on the border, said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Robert L. Ditchey.


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