FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2006
Capt. Chris Heathscott
State Public Affairs Officer
Arkansas National Guard
Guard Leaders Get First Hand Look at Operation Jump Start
~ Arkansas Guardsmen welcome familiar faces to the nation's southwest border
CASA GRADE, Ariz. – A contingent of leaders from the Arkansas National Guard traveled to the Great American Desert this week for a first hand look at the Guard's efforts to help secure the nation's border.
Over 1800 Guardsmen from around the nation are currently in Arizona supporting Operation Jump Start, the Guard's mission to assist US Border Patrol. This number includes 15 Arkansas Air National Guardsmen from the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith and the 189th Airlift Wing at the Little Rock Air Force Base. The majority of the Arkansas troops are conducting support operations, which frees up Border Patrol agents to get out on the line and apprehend those crossing the border illegally.
Among other leaders, Col. Travis Balch, commander of the 189th, and Lt. Col. Tom Anderson, vice commander of the 188th, accompanied Maj. Gen. Ron Chastain on the trip. Chastain, the adjutant general of Arkansas, made the trip shortly after visiting his troops supporting the mission in New Mexico and Texas. Approximately 200 Arkansas Guardsmen with the 39th Brigade Combat Team and 77th Aviation Brigade are supporting the New Mexico and Texas operations.
The mission, which began July 2006 for Arkansas, is currently scheduled to last two years.
See photo at right
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Long Days in the Desert
As the sun goes down in the Arizona desert, the action just begins for our National Guardsmen and Border Patrol. The sunset provides beautiful scenery on the horizon, yet it also provides illegal aliens and drug smugglers with the cover of darkness to move under. The watchful eyes of Border Patrol, coupled with that of the National Guard, continue their watch as the night's curtain drops. Over 30 illegals were captured in Arizona's Casa Grande Sector during the hours of darkness on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2006. Maj. Gen. Ron Chastain, the adjutant general of Arkansas, traveled to Arizona on Monday, to visit his troops supporting the operation. Col. Travis Balch, the commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard's 189th Airlift Wing at the Little Rock Air Force Base, and Lt. Col. Tom Anderson, the vice commander of the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith, joined the general to visit their Airmen supporting the mission there. The two wings have a total of 15 Airmen supporting Operation Jump Start in Arizona. (Photo by Capt. Chris Heathscott, Arkansas National Guard State Public Affairs Office)
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