Planned for months and involving several other states, the Alaska National Guard may be once again going to the southern border to assist with border protection.
The action is not in direct response to the current border standoff between Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and President Joe Biden, who has demanded that Abbott remove razor wire from land along the border of Mexico.
It is also not a major deployment, as has been characterized by some in social media, but consists of just 20 Guardsmen and two helicopters. The Department of Defense has asked Alaska and other states to train guardsmen for possible help with the border.
It happens on a semi-regular basis. In 2019, about 10 members of the Alaska National Guard were deployed to the American side of the U.S.-Mexico border to help with border security.
“The Alaska Army National Guard has been notified by the National Guard Bureau that it is authorized to begin training in preparation for possible mobilization to support the federal Southwest Border Mission in early FY 2025,” according to a statement by the Alaska National Guard.
“The memorandum directs the AKARNG General Support Aviation Battalion to be prepared to deploy two LUH-72 Lakota helicopters and 20 Guardsmen consisting of aircrew, maintenance specialists, and other support personnel,” the Guard said.
“Upon the final decision by the Secretary of Defense and Headquarters, Department of the Army, the unit will receive official alert and mobilization. If mobilized, the aviation detachment would deploy in a Title 10 (federally funded) status and provide rotary wing aviation support to Joint Task Force- North in support of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection along the Southwest border.
Created in 1989, Joint Task Force North (JTF-N) was established as Joint Task Force – Six (JTF-6). In response to President George H.W. Bush’s renewed counterdrug efforts, Army Gen. Colin Powell, then commanding general of U.S. Army’s Forces Command, issued an order Nov. 13, 1989 establishing JTF-6 at Fort Bliss, Texas.
The order established JTF-6 to serve as the planning and coordinating operational headquarters to support local, state and federal law enforcement agencies within the southwest border region to counter the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, the military says on the JTF-N website.
JTF-6’s original area of operations consisted of the four border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas – a land area of more than 660,000 square miles. In February 1995, by directive of the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, JTF-6’s area of responsibility was expanded to include the entire continental United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
JTF-6’s efforts led to both a greater recognition of the potential for military assistance in counterdrug efforts and a significant expansion of the partnership among active-duty forces, Reserve and National Guard components, and the nation’s law enforcement agencies.
In 2004, the commander of U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) ordered JTF-6’s re-designation as JTF-N. The command’s mission has expanded to include providing homeland security and counter transnational organized crime support to the nation’s federal law enforcement agencies, and its area of responsibility has expanded to include USNORTHCOM’s area of responsibility.
From its inception as JTF-6 to its evolution as JTF-N, the command has supported more than 6,000 missions in direct support of the nation’s local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and counterdrug task forces.