Sunday, May 16, 2010

More horses needed to secure the border

In the midst of highly publicized efforts to expand the Border Patrol check point on Interstate 19 into a $27 million permanent facility (temporarily on hold), and millions spent on the electronic towers around Arivaca that don’t work, there is a quiet initiative going on that does work. Horses. The Border Patrol has been establishing what are called “Forward Observation Bases” or FOBs along the border. There are several of them on the border around Nogales. Border Patrol agents are stationed 24/7 at the FOBs and operate from the bases to patrol the border, instead of driving around the countryside from their offices in Tucson or Nogales. The FOBs have successfully throttled illegal entry in the surrounding area according to area ranchers. An interesting issue about the use of an FOB. The areas west of Nogales are extremely rugged, and the effort to stop illegal entry and smuggling can’t be done with vehicles because there are few roads in the area. There is what is called the “fence line trial” running along the border which cowboys use. Most of the area is only accessible by horseback. Thus the Border Patrol is now using horse mounted agents to patrol the area. And this works. With all the publicity about the Secure Border Initiative and the hugely expensive Boeing electronic towers, it is ironic that a 19th century technology is still one of the best solutions to illegal entry and smuggling. Horseback riders. There are interesting logistical problems in setting up an FOB, such as getting water for the horses. Area ranchers have cooperated and are willing to assist...more

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