North Dakota Aviators Support Southwest Border Mission

A group of about 35 North Dakota National Guard aviators this week mustered on the southwest border in Texas to support the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's ongoing operations there.

The Soldiers, of a Bismarck based aviation unit, will serve as the headquarters element and provide command and control for an aviation task force comprised of Army Guardsmen from nine additional states. The task force's mission is to provide flight surveillance operations in support of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents on the ground.

"While we've most recently mobilized units in support of the Global War on Terrorism and operations around the globe, the North Dakota National Guard also continues to fulfill important stateside missions," North Dakota Adjutant General Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk said. "Our aviators are known throughout the National Guard and in the communities they serve - for both their impeccable safety record and expertise. I am confident that they once again will demonstrate their renowned professionalism while assisting federal agencies on the southwest border."

The southwest border mission differs from the National Guard's typical yearlong federal mobilizations. North Dakota Soldiers, as well as task force members from other states, will serve on either 90-day or 180-day rotations. To provide around-the-clock surveillance for U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, the aviators will fly UH-72A Lakota helicopters.

Operation Phalanx/River Water II is supported by Joint Task Force, or JTF, Liberty. The National Guard began assisting the Border Patrol on this operation in March 2012. JTF Liberty supports the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo Border Patrol Sectors, encompassing a 135,439 square-mile area.

The National Guard's mission is to conduct aerial detection and monitoring to disrupt Transnational Criminal Organizations and Drug Trafficking Organizations in support of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or DHS. JTF Liberty provides air-centric operations as augmentation to Customs Border Protection, or CBP, as they increase capability with personnel and technology.

The National Guard has a long history of enduring relationships with local, state and federal agencies in conducting DHS missions. Since 1917, horse cavalry units were sent to protect the southern borders of the United States, and the National Guard has defended the U.S. southern border and continues to do so today.

In addition to North Dakota's Soldiers, the aviation task force is comprised of National Guard members from numerous states across the country. Bismarck's Lt. Col. Paul Helten is the aviation task force commander.

By North Dakota National Guard Public Affairs

Source: US Army
Date: Jan 14, 2015