Monday, August 15, 2016

Horses remain vital tool for Border Patrol

At the base of a wheat-colored knoll, partially shielded by scrub oaks and thorny bushes, Shawn Rodgers is on the brink of unleashing Mayhem. Aided by digital technology and complete knowledge of his surroundings, Rodgers, at the appointed moment, gives the dark bay horse his head and the six-year-old mustang springs up the hill, rocks and dust flying as he gallops forward brushing by trees, crushing dried branches and anything else in his way. Seconds later in a coordinated maneuver, Rodgers, and fellow members of the US Border Patrol’s Nogales Station Horse Patrol Unit are upon four surprised border crossers a short distance north of the Sonora-Arizona border, just west of Nogales. As he closes in on some of the men who are making a run for it in the steep, slippery terrain, Rodgers, a supervisory Border Patrol agent, yells out, “Donde Vas? Tenemos caballos,” letting the men know they are being pursued by patrolmen on horseback.“Where are you going? We have horses!”Such an announcement Rodgers says later, helps people like those apprehended today realize they should stop running because they cannot outrun a horse. Border cameras and sensors deployed in the area give the agents an idea of the entry point and their experience suggests to them the likely routes the crossers may take. Communications by hand-held radios gives the agents on the ground the means to keep in contact with those who are monitoring the changing situation. Because of technology, the areas where the mounted agents are deployed can vary not only daily but even in mid-shift to address changes throughout the day, Rodgers said. Coupled with the agent’s knowledge of the area, it puts them in the best position to stop any illegal traffic or threat, “We can rapidly and appropriately adjust to address any incursions in the Nogales Area of Operation,” he said. Plus at any given time they can work hand-in-hand with other ground units, including the agents riding ATV’s in the area. But the quick interception of the crossers is also where the agency’s mustangs come in. An agent on horseback can cover more ground in less time than an agent on foot, Rodgers said. There is also the tactical advantage of being mounted and high above the ground that can make it easier to see things. And of course, a horse is much quieter than a truck or ATV, he said. But it is the horse’s keen visual and auditory senses that allow it to alert the agents of the presence of people often before the agents can hear or see the group themselves, he said...more

Senators Udall & Heinrich have introduced legislation to designate just under a quarter of a million acres as wilderness within a few miles of our border with Mexico.

So how would wilderness affect the operations above?
Could the BP use horses in a wilderness area?  Yes
How about camera stations?  No
Censors?  No
ATVs?  No

Its pretty easy to see a wilderness designation will be detrimental to border security.

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