When you turn the news on today, it seems as though all the media is discussing is the migrant caravan. This caravan, comprised primarily of Hondurans and other Central Americans, has marched through Guatemala and Mexico with the goal of reaching the United States. As you may also be aware, President Trump has mobilized border patrol agents and has no intention of allowing the caravan to enter the United States.
Border Patrol agents and other first responders must use specialized tactical gear to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country. Below, we provide an inside look at who is protecting our border, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s equipment list and how this gear plays a prominent role in the showdown at the border.
Who Is Protecting Our Border?
Before divulging into the Border Patrol’s equipment list, it’s beneficial to understand who is protecting our Southern border during the impending showdown with the migrant caravan. The U.S. Customers and Border Patrol dispatched their highly-skilled Border Patrol Special Operations Group.
The U.S. Customers and Border Protection says that this group is specially-trained and “capable of (providing) rapid response to emergent and uncommon law enforcement situations requiring special tactics and techniques, search and rescue, and medical response capabilities.” The Special Operations Group provides their services to:
- U.S. Border Patrol
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- Department of Homeland Security
Additionally, there are also armed forces of our National Guard serving at our border. President Trump designated more than 2,000 individuals for assignment in April. However, with the showdown pending, many expect President Trump to send even more armed forces to the border. Trump himself has suggested that as many 15,000 armed troops could be sent to the border, although it’s unclear if these will all primarily be members of the National Guard.
Weapons Being Used By Agents At The Border
Because the migrant caravan has been such a pressing issue in the news, many journalists and photographers have made their way to the border to report on the story. While there, these parties saw members of the National Guard and Special Operations Group with highly-militarized, tactical weapons.
For instance, one journalist saw a member of the Special Operations Group training with an M4 rifle. The soldier had attached a PEQ-15 sight to the top of the weapon. This device works best when used with night-vision goggles because it projects an infrared beam. Also affixed to the rifle were a holographic sight and a tactical flashlight. The photographer also noted that the soldier had multiple magazines attached to his belt.
The special agent was also wearing tactical clothing. He wore a mask over his face and goggles. Not only do these items help when concealing identities, but they are also critical when focusing in dry climates. Lastly, the military member was wearing a noise-canceling tactical headset.
It’s unclear what to expect when the migrant caravan arrives, but military officials have made it clear that they are expecting the worst. Journalists have reported seeing the Special Operations Group train with riot gear, helicopters, armored vehicles, and other similar equipment. This equipment will be vital in both short-range and long-range tactical engagements.
The Use Of Tear Gas At The Border
One of the other tactical weapons used against the migrant caravan is tear gas. Journalists have focused a lot of attention on the use of tear gas to defend the border. Members of the media reported that military agents used tear gas to repel a crowd of migrants that was aggressive and combative, but that also contained children.
Agents used tear gas when nearly 1,000 people attempted to rush Border Patrol at the San Ysidro crossing. The migrant’s protest was originally peaceful, but it quickly turned violent. Agents were put in a situation where they determined that the best use of tactical force for safety was a non-lethal option.
Will Military Force Be Necessary?
It will be interesting to see whether tactical equipment will be necessary at the border when the migrant caravan arrives. President Trump had initially said that military members stationed at the border should be prepared to take any actions necessary and that rifle fire would be an appropriate response to rock throwers, although he has since walked back some of those claims.
President Trump’s most significant critics say that the militarization of the border is no more than a political stunt. For instance, Johns Hopkins University lecturer and former Army officer Jason Fritz told the Washington Post, “It’s a pretty classic show of force for psychological effect.” Critics also site military planning documents from October 27 that reveal that military officials only expect 20 percent of the caravan actually to reach the United States.
This show of force prompted one journalist to ask Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis if troops were deployed to the border as a political stunt. Mattis replied, “We don’t do political stunts.” Still, that did not stop respected military officials, such as former General Colin Powell, to say, “I see no threat requiring this kind of deployment.”
The President of the Migration Policy Institute, Andrew Selee, perhaps provided the most unambiguous outlook of the situation. Selee told Time, “I think it’s so unprecedented that everyone is hanging their own fears and political agendas on the caravan. You can call it scary, you can call it hopeful, you can call it a sign of human misery. You can hang whatever angle you want to on it.”
When it comes to tactical maneuvering, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Having the proper tools and training is critical in a mission. It’s evident that President Trump is expecting the worst when it comes to the migrant caravan and preparing military members to take action. The best-case scenario would be that the convoy would turn around, or arrive peacefully without creating conflict. It will be an interesting situation to monitor over the coming days and weeks.