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Newsletter 10-52
July 2010

Section 2: Coordinated Efforts of Border Security

How the Military Supports Homeland Security

General Gene Renuart, U.S. Air Force

Reprinted with permission from Proceedings (Copyright © 2009 U.S. Naval Institute).

In my capacity as Commander of U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), I am also Commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the counterpart to the Commander of Canada Command (Canada COM), our partner to the north. These three organizations have complementary missions in protecting our homelands, and they work together closely.

NORAD-a more than 51-year-old bi-national U.S.-Canadian command governed by the NORAD Agreement-is responsible for aerospace warning and control and the relatively new and developing mission of maritime warning for the two countries. NORAD ensures U.S. and Canadian air sovereignty through a network of alert fighters, tankers, airborne-early-warning aircraft, and ground-based air-defense assets cued by interagency and defense surveillance systems.

USNORTHCOM, a unified combatant command established on 1 October 2002, has the joint missions of homeland defense-incorporating maritime defense, plus missile defense of the homeland-and defense support of civil authorities (DSCA).

Both commands share headquarters staff and use the same consolidated command center. And USNORTHCOM's civil authorities support work reinforces the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), among other agencies.

Multiple Domains

Operating in a variety of domains, USNORTHCOM must prepare for homeland defense and DSCA in each simultaneously. The air, space, land, maritime, and cyber domains can all be affected by natural disasters or man-made threats and certainly each can have an impact on the others.

For example, the maritime domain can be affected by threats from the air, cyberspace, and the sea. If we can be attacked in all of these by man or Mother Nature, then we must defend against or at least mitigate the threat in each of them. Our goal and role is to ensure that the Department of Defense is properly positioned to do that-leading if it's a case of military homeland defense, supporting DHS if it's a case of homeland security, and working effectively with DHS and its components in operational situations that require transition between homeland defense and security, which certainly can happen.

Threats to our homeland have obviously changed in this new century. As DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano noted on 30 July 2009: "We cannot forget that the 9/11 attackers conceived of their plans in the Philippines, planned in Malaysia and Germany, recruited from Yemen and Saudi Arabia, trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and carried them out in the United States." Of course, much of our homeland defense and security effort is focused overseas. Thus, we conduct a daily counterterrorism video conference with U.S. Central Command and others. Our view must be global, in all domains.

Progress-It's About Teamwork

We are committed to support the many components of DHS and other federal agencies, when requested and directed by the President or Secretary of Defense. In fact, I spend a lot of time on Capitol Hill advocating for resources needed by other federal agencies and for our partners in the National Guard. Speaking about the significance of soft power to our country, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates mentioned the importance of investing more in the Departments of State, Agriculture, Justice, and other government agencies that can provide the reconstruction capacity we need in some of our overseas operations.

The same is true for us in the homeland. Under the National Response Framework, DOD must be prepared as a supporting agency for every single emergency support function. So it is important to us that DHS and other primary agencies for the various emergency support and federal law enforcement functions be adequately funded so they can carry out their border-security, maritime-surveillance, intelligence-fusion, and disaster-response roles.

This is especially crucial in certain homeland security functions for which we in DOD are not organized, trained, or equipped. But we also know that terrorists and Mother Nature don't exactly create disasters for which the pre-planned response at every level of government is predictably perfect and with unlimited resources. So we make ourselves ready, if needed, as quiet professionals capable of making a difference and doing it in support of state governors and federal agencies.

National Guard, Reserve, and Other Agencies

In our headquarters, nearly 10 percent of USNORTHCOM's full-time military staff draws from the National Guard and Reserve, who bring strong experience from the states. We have 52 different federal agencies represented in or near our headquarters every day. These are senior representatives provided by their agencies to work directly in our planning and emergency operations. They include people from the State Department and the Federal Aviation Administration, along with DHS and many of its elements, i.e., the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Transportation Safety Administration, and the Coast Guard.

Photo of author (left) and Canadian air force lieutenant general Marc Dumai

BILATERAL MILITARY PLAN In February 2008, the author (left) and Canadian air force lieutenant general Marc Dumais, commander of Canada command, signed a Civil Assistance Plan that allows the military from one nation to support the armed forces of the other during a civil emergency. "This provides the technical avenue through which we can help each other quickly," the author says.

We also have liaison officers from other combatant commands and an FBI representative who briefs me routinely on counterterrorism operations. We, in turn, have two action officers at the National Counterterrorism Center and another in the FBI's National Joint Terrorism Task Force, plus officers in various parts of DHS, other unified commands, the National Guard Bureau and Canada Command, as well as a Washington office.

After Hurricane Katrina, we placed a defense coordinating officer, with a supporting defense coordinating element, in each of the FEMA regions. This team helps plan for the kinds of events that can occur in each particular region, so that we can be prepared to provide tailored support when it's required, requested, and directed.

In addition to our interagency associates, we have great international partners. Nearly 130 Canadians are in our headquarters, primarily focused on NORAD air, space, and now maritime-warning operations, but also integrated into our strategy and plans, logistics, policy, and intelligence cells. We share mutual support with our partners in Canada Command through a bilateral Civil Assistance Plan that we signed in February 2008. This provides the technical avenue through which we can help each other quickly, as when a Canadian C-17 airlifted American medical patients before Hurricane Gustav came ashore last year. It worked very well.

Finally, just as the Department of State and DHS have cooperative programs with counterpart Mexican government agencies, our theater security cooperation activities extend to our friends in the armed forces of Mexico-with whom I think we enjoy the best relationships we've ever had. In our headquarters, senior Mexican Navy and Air Force liaison officers serve to support the Mexican government in its fight against the drug cartels, which helps make our homeland safer.

Maritime Collaboration

The relationship we have with our Sea Service partners is strong. We've built an interagency team that can collaborate smoothly, train together, and operate effectively. Routinely, we have Coast Guard or FBI officers on board our Navy ships to support maritime law enforcement when they ask for Navy assistance. NORAD, USNORTHCOM, the Navy, and the Coast Guard collaborate in many homeland-defense operations. For example, our air defense of the National Capital Region includes Coast Guard helicopters, with crews trained to do airborne intercept that helps us vector away aircraft infringing on restricted air space.

Photo of U.S. First Air Force commander Major General Hank Morrow (left) discusses North American homeland operations with Major General Carlos Antonio Rodriquez Munguia

COLLABORATION WITH MEXICO Mexican Navy and Air Force liaison officers serve at USNORTHCOM headquarters to support their country's fight against drug cartels. Here, U.S. First Air Force commander Major General Hank Morrow (left) discusses North American homeland operations with Major General Carlos Antonio Rodriquez Munguia, deputy director of operations for the Mexican Air Force.

We also partner in mine countermeasures activity. As an Air Force fighter pilot, I never thought much about the bottoms of ports. But I have learned that over time, tides, storms, and other events change their structure. It is nice to know what's there so that if we do get intelligence of a new maritime explosive device here in our homeland, we can understand what's already under the water in our ports and quickly survey to see what's different. With interagency cooperation and key Navy and Coast Guard roles, as a team we're completing these important port surveys. We have just over 30 Coast Guardsmen (active duty and reserve) fully integrated into our staff, including an outstanding USNORTHCOM Deputy Director of Operations. We're engaged with the Coast Guard's Pacific and Atlantic area commands, and we're very supportive as that service realigns itself into an operational command structure. We're also integrated into each other's maritime planning and execution processes. For example, NORTHCOM served as DOD lead, teamed with the Coast Guard as DHS lead, in co-writing the national Maritime Domain Awareness Concept of Operations.

With Canada Command, we're pursuing development of a Canada-U.S. Maritime Defense Plan. Supporting the Navy lead in the DOD Maritime Domain Awareness campaign, USNORTHCOM is the lead operational manager for technology demonstration projects, entitled Comprehensive Maritime Awareness and Maritime Automated Super Track Enhanced Reporting, and we teamed with the U.S. Pacific Command to develop the Maritime Domain Awareness Joint Integrating Concept. We've participated in the coordination of a DHS-Department of Transportation-DOD interagency memorandum of agreement to guide U.S. Government participation in the international Maritime Safety and Security Information System. Our two major annual USNORTHCOM exercises, Ardent Sentry and Vigilant Shield, foster vigorous collaboration among interagency and international maritime and law-enforcement organizations, a strong team effort that gets better each year.

Within our headquarters we've established a private-sector office that works closely with its DHS and FEMA counterparts. The maritime industry plays a big role in national security, and the private sector is a huge part of maritime security around the world, just as it owns and operates the vast majority of American transportation and critical infrastructure. So we've looked for ways to partner with private-sector shipping companies, pilots' associations, and others to help us create shared situational awareness of what's in the domain so we can, in my words, "sort the friendlies." Having to look at two or three vessels of concern is a lot better than having to sort through 200.

Unity of Effort

Homeland defense and security and disaster preparedness and response require team play at all levels. With this in mind, we at USNORTHCOM are constantly focused on communication, coordination, collaboration, and integration. Traditional military unity of command is key to successful military operations-including DSCA operations. But the term doesn't fit very well into a whole-of-government, interagency federal/state/local/tribal, private-sector National Response Framework lexicon, which is about collaborative unity of effort.

Each of our partners at these levels is unique. They have their own authorities, usually mandated by law. This includes the private sector. Nowhere in law does it say that DOD is in command of any civil law enforcement agencies. Posse Comitatus prohibits it, and we are especially sensitive not to step outside those guidelines. Our role in homeland security is to build confidence among our partners and be there in support when they ask for it, bringing capabilities and capacities that DOD can provide to help our to protect our citizens.

Teaming with others begins with building relationships. We work closely every day with our civilian partners, agencies like DHS, Health and Human Services, FBI, and the Drug Enforcement Agency, as well as the private sector. Since she's been in office, Secretary Napolitano and I have created a relationship that allows us to be successful as a team, with USNORTHCOM in support of DHS. This is critical when the nation comes under the stress of a natural or manmade disaster. We host a biweekly, informal Interagency Planner Synchronization Working Group at the national level. We actively participate in the DHS-led Integrated Planning System, and in the National Exercise Program. We do our best to integrate planning, training exercises, and responses-not only of joint DOD forces, or of Title 10 and National Guard forces on state duty, or of combined U.S. and foreign forces (as with Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav), but with all of our civilian partners. We have to be able to do that under stress. It's not smart to start exchanging business cards at the scene of a disaster. This begins with building trusted, knowledgeable working relationships before disaster happens-one of the most important things we do every day.

Homeland Defense Support of Civil Authorities

We provide support to other agencies during unique and varied operations like the Presidential inauguration, the United Nations General Assembly, G-20 and other summits, the Super Bowl, the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, space shuttle launches, and wild land firefighting wherever required and requested by civilian officials around the country. There's annual flooding in the Midwest and elsewhere, with which we can be asked to help, in addition to the Army Corps of Engineers' separate authorities, responsibilities, and appropriations as established by law.

In response to the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis back in August of 2007, USNORTHCOM provided Navy salvage divers to go in and recover the remains of people killed-in support of the Department of Transportation, which was supporting the local sheriff. We did that deployment in a few hours after being tasked, with just a few phone calls. One of the reasons we monitor events around the country, anticipate potential requests, and lean forward to prepare, is so we don't have a cold start and can respond quickly.

We support civil agencies that do counter-drug and border-security operations of many kinds, including legally authorized tunnel detection and logistical and sensor support to law enforcement agency interdiction of illegal trafficking. We also support and conduct environmental response. We have to understand how the other partners operate, and how we can integrate our support with them. For example, last year after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, we used Navy sonar towed behind helicopters to help survey the channels into the ports of New Orleans and Galveston to allow for rapid and safe opening of those ports to commercial traffic.

Let's be clear: when supporting civil authorities, we come to a state or a region only on the direction of the President and/or Secretary of Defense, typically when federal support has been requested by a governor, putting the right assets in the right place at the right time. When we're no longer needed, we go away. By law, we can also be directed to support civil law enforcement agencies, especially in their efforts to stop illicit drug smuggling across our borders. But we're not doing civil law enforcement.

Our Approach to DSCA

We added a word to our USNORTHCOM mission statement a couple of years ago to imprint it into our culture. If you walk into our command center, you'll see about a 25-foot-wide banner, with 14-inch-tall letters, that says, "Anticipate." If we're not thinking ahead, if we're not planning in advance, then we'll not respond well. And the response will always be later than needed. We'd be slow and clumsy instead of resilient, creative, adaptive, and effective in crisis response.

Photo of I-35 bridge collapse

I-35 BRIDGE COLLAPSE A great example of how USNORTHCOM response is supposed to work took place in August 2007, when Navy salvage divers were dispatched to Minneapolis "within a few hours after being tasked" for the recovery effort. Such preparation and anticipation, the author says, "is so we don't have a cold start and can respond quickly."

That doesn't mean you'll always preclude an event from happening. Mother Nature has a tendency to do things her own way. But if you plan for those kinds of events, if you've built good interagency working relationships, if you've done smart things like working with FEMA in its pre-scripted mission assignments system, then you're much more likely to be ready to mitigate and respond when bad things happen in America. I do not accept the attitude of "stuff happens." It's our job to anticipate and prepare, with the resources we have, under applicable laws and directives.

Every day, our command center monitors 35 to 40 events across North America, including maritime events involving vessels of interest. We need to ensure that each of these events is visible to us, and we anticipate the implications of any one of them turning into a crisis, fortunately, very few do. But if one does, we can be in a position to respond immediately. Our command center shares information with some 150 other command centers in North America. That's a big business for us, and the sharing of information is central to everyone's success.

International friends are key to our homeland defense and security, especially our neighbors here on this continent. A Canadian general was in the NORAD Operations Center directing initial air defense over our homeland as 9/11 unfolded. NATO airborne early warning crews flew in support of NORAD over our homeland after 9/11. The Canadians evacuated American medical patients as Hurricane Gustav approached last year. Mexican Army troops fed displaced Americans after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and they are now fighting the drug cartels that smuggle illegal drugs into the United States. If you tally the deaths, the injuries, and medical costs, and the societal impact of the crime drugs cause, the financial and strategic impact to our nation is huge. As in the neighborhood around your home, you're a lot safer if good neighbors are watching out for you. Canada and Mexico are very important to us.

Present and Future Challenges

My focus, beyond readiness to respond to any homeland crisis, is on the future. We're not just adapting to change, we're working to anticipate and help lead it. Following is a short list of some of the key challenges we're helping to shape now and for the future:

  • Maritime Domain Awareness;
  • Arctic Presence, Safety, and Security;
  • Ballistic- and Cruise-Missile Defense of the Homeland;
  • NORAD Aircraft Recapitalization and Radar Sustainment (including Title 10, National Guard, and Canadian assets-as well as FAA radars on which we depend);
  • Resourcing and Fielding of Three Nationally-Responsive CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosive) Consequence Management Response Forces (CCMRF);
  • Theater Security Cooperation with Our North American Neighbors;
  • Access to Reserve Forces for National Disaster Response;
  • Improving DOD Incident Awareness and Assessment tools for DSCA Missions;
  • Collaborative Planning, Training, Exercises and Operations with Federal Interagency and State Partners;
  • Defending Our Cyber Networks, plus Roles & Missions Definition for Cyber DSCA;
  • Pandemic Readiness (USNORTHCOM is assigned as DOD global pandemic influenza planning lead) and Preparing for Potential Pandemic DSCA Roles.

Our solemn obligation in USNORTHCOM, as in NORAD with Canada, is to defend our homelands. We support civil authorities as part of the larger federal effort, when directed under law. We are volunteers who have sworn to support and defend the Constitution. We're proud to defend our citizens and to support the civil agencies that protect them. Ready now, we're actively anticipating and preparing for a changing future, which we'll help shape as a trusted team player, guarding what you value most.

General Renuart is Commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command. He entered the Air Force in 1971 and has logged more than 3,900 flight hours, including 60 combat missions.

Note: This article, which was originally published in October 2009, was reprinted from Proceedings with permission; Copyright © 2009 U.S. Naval Institute/"".


Military Homeland Security Support:
Joint Task Force North Supports Federal Agencies

Armando Carrasco, Joint Task Force North Public Affairs

Securing the nation and safeguarding citizens are the top priorities for federal law enforcement agencies. Supporting federal homeland security efforts is the mission of Joint Task Force North (JTF North).

JTF North, based at Fort Bliss, Texas, is the Department of Defense (DOD) organization tasked to support federal law enforcement agencies in identifying and interdicting suspected narcotics-related traffickers and other transnational threats. While JTF North's mission authorities are based on counterdrug/counternarcotrafficking federal laws, the task force support operations are executed to counter associated transnational threats. Transnational threats include activities that threaten the national security of the United States, including international terrorism, narcotrafficking, alien smuggling, and threats involving weapons of mass destruction.

JTF North homeland security support missions are executed as part of the DOD's military support to civilian law enforcement agencies (MSCLEA) responsibilities. The homeland security support provided by JTF North is designed to enhance law enforcement agencies' efforts to anticipate, detect, deter, prevent, and defeat transnational threats to the homeland.

Joint Task Force North Mission: JTF North provides military support to law enforcement agencies, conducts theater security cooperation as directed, and facilitates interagency synchronization within the U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) area of responsibility in order to anticipate, detect, deter, prevent, and defeat transnational threats to the homeland.

As a subordinate element of USNORTHCOM, JTF North is under the operational control of U.S. Army North, the joint force land component command. The task force operates within the USNORTHCOM area of responsibility, which encompasses the entire North American continent, to include the air, land, and sea approaches.

Requests for Military Support

When domestic law enforcement agencies request DOD operational or other types of support from JFT North, DOD policy requires the requests to first be offered to the appropriate state National Guard (NG) counterdrug coordinator to determine whether the state NG can provide the support. To accomplish this requirement, the NG Bureau maintains a liaison team within the JTF North headquarters. If a determination is made that the NG does not have the requested support capabilities or available assets, the request is considered by JTF North.

All support requests submitted to JTF North must comply with U.S law and DOD policy for domestic employment of Title 10, U.S. Code, federal military forces. During the first decade of JTF North's MSCLEA operations, the support provided to law enforcement was relatively personnel intensive, using people on the ground to provide border detection. Today, JTF North support has shifted to a greater focus on the application of technologies, including ground sensors, radar, airborne platforms, and thermal imaging.

Photo of marines instaling ground sensor

Figure 1. An agent from U.S. Border Patrol-San Diego Sector maintains security while Marines from the 4th Ground Sensor Platoon, Intelligence Support Battalion, install ground sensors in a remote area along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Photo showing loading of heloicopter

Figure 2. Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-764 airlifted U.S. Border Patrol-San Diego Sector air mobile unit agents and their all-terrain vehicles to remote mountainous locations along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The evolution of the support has resulted in more effective border detection. JTF North has shifted its intelligence support efforts from the borders outward and deeper into the approaches to the United States. Working more closely with Canadian and Mexican agencies, JTF North is gaining greater visibility on threats as they enter the USNORTHCOM area of responsibility. The end result is an increased ability to alert partner nations working in cooperation with U.S. law enforcement to interdict the threats before they reach the United States.

Military Volunteers Perform Support Missions

As an operational planning headquarters, JTF North is comprised of 180 active duty and reserve component Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, DOD civilian employees, and contracted support personnel. The joint service command, which has no assigned forces, relies on volunteer Title 10 active duty and reserve component units and individual military assets to accomplish its homeland security support mission.

JTF North solicits volunteer units from each of the four DOD branches. The volunteer units must be equipped with the appropriate military skills and capabilities required to perform the requested operational support missions. The Title 10 units and personnel executing the JTF North support missions operate under the tactical control of the JTF North commander. In its continued effort to synchronize the JTF North support missions, the task force routinely coordinates its support operations with other DOD support assets, including the NG.

Photo showing unloading an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter

Figure 3. Soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 6th Air Cavalry Regiment unload an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border via a U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy aircraft. The Soldiers employed their forward-looking infrared (FLIR) equipped aircraft while conducting aviation reconnaissance operations in support of the U.S. Border Patrol-El Paso Sector.

Photo showing Soldiers inspecting a map

Figure 4. The JTF North intelligence directorate, geospatial intelligence office, provides volunteer military units, supported law-enforcement agencies, and the JTF North staff with imagery support, including multiple scale maps, line drawings, and custom geospatial intelligence analyses.

Photos showing Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 24 on a conctruction project

Figure 5. Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 24 constructed low-water crossings, fences, and roads along the U.S.-Mexico border near Douglas, Arizona in support of the U.S. Border Patrol-Tucson Sector.

The volunteer units must comply with legal and policy guidelines, including the Posse Comitatus Act and intelligence oversight policies. Based on U.S. law, the active duty and reserve component military forces can only be employed to provide support. They are strictly prohibited from being used in a direct law enforcement role.

Once a unit volunteers for a specific mission, JTF North facilitates mission planning and execution with the unit and the supported agency. Field grade officers and senior noncommissioned officers are assigned as mission planners to assist the volunteer units in mission preparation and to facilitate coordination with the federal law enforcement agencies. Mission planners ensure that each operation is conducted legally, efficiently, and safely. JTF North also operates a 24-hour joint operations coordination center to resolve and coordinate issues that the volunteer military units may encounter.

Under DOD policy, the approved support missions must either provide a training benefit to the unit or make a significant contribution to national security. The JTF North missions provide volunteer units with real-world training opportunities that directly increase their combat effectiveness. While supporting law enforcement agencies, volunteer units typically train in 90 percent of wartime mission tasks. Many of the volunteer active duty and reserve units have used JTF North missions as train-up opportunities before deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan. To prepare for future deployments, some units returning from Iraq and Afghanistan volunteer for additional JTF North missions.

Units executing JTF North missions along the southwest border areas also gain the added benefit of conducting concurrent unit training at some of the best training ranges in the world, including the Fort Bliss training ranges, Arizona's Goldwater Range, and the Yuma Proving Ground.

JTF North missions truly yield win-win situations: the volunteer units gain great training opportunities and the nation's law enforcement agencies get much needed support.

While the task force can respond to short-notice support requests, most mission planning takes several weeks or many months, depending on each mission's requirements. Actual mission duration can vary from a couple of weeks to several months.

Categories of Military Support

JTF North support to federal law enforcement agencies is categorized in the following six support categories and listed types of support:

  • Operational support.
    • Aviation support operations.
      • Aviation transportation/insertion/extraction.
    • Aviation reconnaissance.
      • Daytime operations.
      • Nighttime operations.
    • Air and maritime surveillance radar.
    • Unmanned aircraft systems.
    • Ground surveillance radar.
    • Listening post/observation post.
    • Ground sensor operations.
    • Ground transportation.
  • Intelligence support.
    • Collaborative threat assessment.
    • Geospatial intelligence support.
    • Modified threat vulnerability assessment.
    • Threat link analysis product.
  • Engineering support (only within the southwest border).
    • Personnel barriers.
    • Vehicle barriers.
    • Lights.
    • Roads.
    • Bridges.
  • General Support.
    • Mobile training teams.
      • Basic marksmanship.
      • Trauma management.
      • Emergency response.
      • Counterdrug field tactical police operations.
      • Counterdrug marksman/observer training.
      • Counterdrug special reaction team training.
      • Integrated mission planning.
      • Intelligence and link analysis.
      • Interview techniques.
      • Multisubject tactical instruction.
      • Threat mitigation training.
      • Other training as requested.
    • Tunnel detection.
    • Transportation.
    • Sustainment.

Photo showing aviation reconnaissance and maritime radar support operations

Figure 6. JTF North executed a multisensor land and maritime homeland security mission in support of the U.S. Coast Guard along the U.S.-Mexico border south of San Diego. The support mission included both day and night aviation reconnaissance and maritime radar support operations.

Photo showing  Soldier and a JTF North border-road mission discussing a U.S. Border Patrol agent providing security for the military engineers

Figure 7. A 94th Engineer Battalion safety noncommissioned officer discusses a JTF North border-road mission with a U.S. Border Patrol agent providing security for the military engineers. The Fort Leonard Wood engineers constructed approximately one mile of improved roads and several low-water crossings in Laredo, Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • Interagency synchronization.
    • Support interagency planning process.
    • Facilitate interagency and binational information sharing.
    • Leverage point of integration operations (multi-agency, multi-assets operation).
  • Technology integration.
    • DOD science and technology investment.
    • Ground/air/maritime sensor integration.
    • Information efficiency and networks.
    • Biometrics.
    • Tunnel detection.

National Guard Support to Law Enforcement

JTF North support missions are executed separately from NG, Title 32, U.S. Code law enforcement support efforts. NG support is provided under the authority of each state's governor. All law enforcement support requests are first offered to the appropriate state NG counterdrug coordinators before they are considered by JTF North.

In order to maximize the total military support effort, JTF North staff routinely works directly with the NG Bureau and the NG Counterdrug Division as well as with state NG joint forces headquarters and counterdrug task forces where JTF North support operations are conducted.

The combined efforts provided by JTF North and the NG serve as enablers that enhance federal law enforcement agencies' capabilities to disrupt and defeat threats to the nation.

The JTF North staff of DOD professionals is committed to accomplishing the command's mission; their dedication to the homeland security support role is best summed up in JTF North's motto: "Service to the Nation." For more information on JTF North, visit the command's Website at "".

Joint Task Force North History

  • JTF North, formerly known as Joint Task Force-Six (JTF-6), was established in response to President George H.W. Bush's declaration of the war on drugs. General Colin Powell, then commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, issued the order that established JTF-6, effective November 13, 1989.
  • JTF-6 was established 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.
  • 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 partnerships among active duty forces, reserve components, and the nation's law enforcement agencies.
  • The tactics, techniques, and procedures that the command developed over the years in the war on drugs contribute immeasurably to the accomplishment of JTF North's new and broader mission of combating transnational threats.
  • In a ceremony conducted on September 28, 2004, JTF-6 was officially renamed JTF North.

From its inception as JTF-6 to its evolution as JTF North, the command has completed over 6,000 missions in support of the nation's local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and counterdrug task forces.


Protecting Our Borders Against Terrorism

Reprinted with permission from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). CBP combined the inspectional workforces and broad border authorities of U.S. Customs, U.S. Immigration, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the entire U.S. Border Patrol.

CBP includes more than 41,000 employees to manage, control and protect the Nation's borders, at and between the official ports of entry. "U.S. Customs and Border Protection has accomplished a lot to secure our borders, but there is much more we are doing. We understand that as America's frontline, the security of a nation rests on our shoulders. We have learned the lessons of 9/11 and are working day and night to make America safer and more secure," stated Commissioner Robert C. Bonner.

CBP "Twin Goals" - Anti-Terrorism and Facilitating Legitimate Trade and Travel

"For the first time in our nation's history, one agency has the lone responsibility of protecting our borders. As the single, unified border agency, CBP's mission is vitally important to the protection of America and the American people. CBP's priority mission is preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, while also facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel," continued Commissioner Bonner.

CBP uses multiple strategies and employs the latest in technology to accomplish its dual goals. CBP's initiatives are designed to protect the homeland from acts of terrorism, and reduce the vulnerability to the threat of terrorists through a multi-level inspection process.

Better Targeting

U.S. Customs and Border Protection assess all passengers flying into the U.S. from abroad for terrorist risk. We are able to better identify people who may pose a risk through initiatives such as: the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS), United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indication Technology (US-VISIT), and the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS). CBP regularly refuses entry to people who may pose a threat to the security of our country. This was not a focus prior to 9/11, but a shift in priorities and the formation of U.S. Customs and Border Protection has made this the top priority of the agency - keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country.

In addition, CBP uses advance information from the Automated Targeting System (ATS), Automated Export System (AES), and the Trade Act of 2002 Advance Electronic Information Regulations to identify cargo that may pose a threat. CBP's Office of Intelligence and the National Targeting Center (NTC) enhance these initiatives by synthesizing information to provide tactical targeting. Using risk management techniques they evaluate people and goods to identify a suspicious individual or container before it can reach our shores.

Photo showing line of trucks waiting for inspeciton

Photo Credit: Gerald L. Nino

The Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) has made electronic risk management far more effective. The ACE Secure Data Portal provides a single, centralized on-line access point to connect CBP and the trade community. CBP's modernization efforts enhance border security while optimizing the ever-increasing flow of legitimate trade.

CBP also screens high-risk imported food shipments in order to prevent bio-terrorism/agro-terrorism. For the first time, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CBP personnel are working side by side at the NTC to protect the U.S. food supply by taking action, implementing provisions of the Bioterrorism Act of 2002. CBP and FDA are able to react quickly to threats of bio-terrorist attacks on the U.S. food supply or to other food related emergencies.

Pushing Our "Zone of Security Outward" - Partnering With Other Countries

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has created smarter borders by extending our zone of security beyond our physical borders.

CBP has established working groups with our foreign counterparts to establish ties, improve security and facilitate the flow of legitimate trade and travel. Through the Container Security Initiative (CSI), CBP pushes our zone of security outward by working jointly with host nation counterparts to identify and screen containers that pose a risk at the foreign port of departure before they are loaded on board vessels bound for the U.S. CSI is now implemented in 20 of the largest ports in terms of container shipments to the U.S. and at total of 58 ports worldwide.

CBP has implemented joint initiatives with our bordering countries, Canada and Mexico: The Smart Border Declaration and associated 30-Point Action Plan with Canada and The Smart Border Accord with Mexico. The Secure Electronic Network for Travelers' Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) allows pre-screened, low-risk travelers from Mexico to be processed in an expeditious manner through dedicated lanes. Similarly, on our northern border with Canada, we are engaging in NEXUS to identify and facilitate low-risk travelers. Along both borders, CBP has implemented the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program. The FAST program utilizes transponder technology and pre-arrival shipment information to process participating trucks as they arrive at the border, expediting trade while better securing our borders.

In addition, an agreement with Canada allows CBP to target, screen, and examine rail shipments headed to the U.S. This month, CBP is establishing CBP attachés in Mexico and Canada to coordinate border security issues. CBP Border Patrol agents, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies from Canada and the U.S. have joined together to form fourteen Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBET). Covering our entire mutual border with Canada, these teams are used to target cross-border smuggling between Canada and the United States. The teams focus on criminal activity such as smuggling of drugs, humans, contraband and cross-border terrorist movements.

Pushing Our "Zone of Security Outward" - Partnering With the Private Sector

Processing the sheer volume of trade entering the U.S. each year requires help from the private sector. The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) is a joint government-business initiative designed to strengthen overall supply chain and border security while facilitating legitimate, compliant trade. To date, over 6,500 companies are partnering with CBP. C-TPAT is the largest, most successful government-private sector partnership to arise out of 9-11.

In addition, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is piloting the Advanced Trade Data Initiative. This program works with the trade community to obtain information on U.S. bound goods at the earliest possible point in the supply chain. Partnering with carriers, importers, shippers and terminal operators, we are gathering supply chain data and feeding it into our systems to validate container shipments during the supply process. This information increases CBP's existing ability to zero in on suspect movements and perform any necessary security inspections at the earliest point possible in the supply chain.

Inspection Technology and Equipment

Given the magnitude of CBP's responsibility the development and deployment of sophisticated detection technology is essential. Deployment of Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) technology is increasing and viewed as "force multipliers" that enable CBP officers to screen or examine a larger portion of the stream of commercial traffic.

Photo of shipping container under inspection

Photo Credit: Gerald L. Nino

CBP does not rely on any single technology or inspection process. Instead, officers and agents use various technologies in different combinations to substantially increase the likelihood that terrorist weapons including a nuclear or radiological weapon will be detected and interdicted.

Technologies deployed to our nation's land, sea, and airports of entry include large-scale x-ray and gamma-imaging systems. CBP has deployed radiation detection technology including Personal Radiation Detectors (PRDs), radiation isotope identifiers, and radiation portal monitors. CBP uses trained explosive and chemical detector dogs. CBP's Laboratories and Scientific Services Fast Response Team reacts to calls on suspicious containers. The Laboratories and Scientific Services also operates a 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year hotline at its Chemical, Biological, Radiation, and Nuclear Technical Data Assessment and Teleforensic Center.

Keeping Weapons and Money from Falling into Terrorist Hands - Outbound Inspections

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has the authority to search outbound, as well as in bound shipments, and uses targeting to carry out its mission in this area. Targeting of outbound shipments and people is a multi-dimensional effort that is enhanced by inter-agency cooperation. CBP in conjunction with the Department of State and the Bureau of the Census has put in place regulations that require submission of electronic export information on U.S. Munitions List and for technology for the Commerce Control List. This information flows via the Automated Export System (AES). CBP is also working with the Departments of State and Defense to improve procedures on exported shipments of foreign military sales commodities. CBP also works with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to seize outbound currency, particularly cash and monetary instruments going to the Middle East.

Protecting the Miles of Open Border Between Official Ports of Entry

U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Border Patrol agents are better securing areas between the ports of entry by implementing a comprehensive border enforcement strategy, expanding, integrating, and coordinating the use of technology and communications through:

  • Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System (ISIS) is a system that uses remotely monitored night-day camera and sensing systems to better detect, monitor, and respond to illegal crossings.
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are equipped with sophisticated on-board sensors. UAVs provide long-range surveillance and are useful for monitoring remote land border areas where patrols cannot easily travel and infrastructure is difficult or impossible to build.
  • Remote Video Surveillance Systems (RVSS) provide coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to detect illegal crossings on both our northern and southern borders.
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) - a CBP Border Patrol southwest border initiative to track illegal migration patterns.
  • "U.S. Customs and Border Protection can point to a myriad of accomplishments since 9/11 to better secure our Nation's borders. They are astonishing in scope and the speed with which we have implemented them. Our borders are more secure than they were on 9/11 -- keeping terrorists and their weapons out of our country is the most vital mission of any law enforcement agency - a mission we must succeed at," stated Commissioner Bonner.

Note: This article was originally published on 14 May 2008 on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Web site, "".


Securing the United States-Mexico Border: An On-Going Dilemma

Karina J. Ordóñez

Reprinted with permission from Homeland Security Affairs.


For decades, the United States federal government has developed and implemented border security strategies to counter illegal cross-border activity. While some strategies have alleviated the influx of illegal immigration to certain geographic areas, increased border controls in these locations have made other, less controlled areas of the border more vulnerable. Rising crime rates, discarded debris, increased apprehension rates, and growing public scrutiny in these less secure areas provide clear evidence that border security is at once a social, an economic, and a national security issue.

Prior to 9/11, the United States Border Patrol (USBP) had established security efforts along the international border. Since then, however, the constant flow of unauthorized migrants and "the increasing mobility and destructive potential of modern terrorism has required the United States to rethink and rearrange fundamentally its systems for border... security."1 Yet, despite the border security efforts of the Bush Administration and the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the problem persists and continues to worsen, particularly along the Arizona-Sonora border (ASB). There is a critical need to rethink border security systems, particularly along the Southwest border, that leads observers to ponder: who is primarily responsible for securing our borders? What is the USBP doing to secure the border given the additional threat of terrorism? 2

Defining Borders

In order to articulate functional definitions, the "border" refers to the 2,000 mile geo-political divide between the United States and Mexico. However, for purposes of this paper, the "border" is specifically the international border between the State of Arizona, United States and the State of Sonora, Mexico. The 377-mile Arizona-Sonora Border (ASB) is a portion of one of the world's busiest international boundaries and, as such, an overwhelming number of cross-border illegal and legal activities occur there daily.3 Although there is a geo-political border, a full understanding of the complexities and dynamics of the ASB requires recognition and analysis of the communities on both sides of the border. The economic dependency, and the environmental and cultural ties between these border communities, adds a multifaceted dynamic and dimension to understanding the ASB. This cultural, social, and economic region has received recognition from governments and the public; therefore, to encompass these intrinsic interdependencies, the term "border region" was officially recognized in 1983 in the La Paz Agreement. The border region includes 100 kilometers (67 miles) north and south of the geopolitical divide between the United States and Mexico.4 The border region has a population of approximately three million people, and it continues to grow exponentially as compared to the national average of both the United States and Mexico.5 This includes all of the cities, town, communities, tribes, and counties within this area, which share common challenges.

9/11 brought a new dimension to the problem of illegal immigration with potential terrorists seeking to enter the country, thereby elevating border security to a national priority. The United States government responded to 9/11 with the creation of DHS, a department tasked with "preventing terrorist attacks within the United States, reducing American's vulnerability to terrorism and minimizing the damage and recovery from attacks that do occur." 6 DHS was created under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and merged twenty-two agencies into one department and ostensibly one mission. One of the newly created directorates was Border and Transportation Security, which abolished the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) and divided its functions among Citizenship and Immigrant Services (CIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). While these units continue to exist within DHS, the directorate of Border and Transportation Security was recently disbanded by Secretary Chertoff, in July 2005. Now, CIS processes legal immigration services and enforces illegal immigration along with the USCG, ICE, and CBP. The duties of illegal immigration enforcement are further divided between ICE and CBP: ICE enforces immigration law within the interior of the United States and CBP, USBP enforces and protects the United States border. The goal in integrating customs inspectors, immigration inspectors, and agricultural inspectors under CBP was to provide one face at the border and one comprehensive strategy with a unity of force. However, USBP - although a unit of CBP - remains distinct, with its own mission and force.

By law and according to the National Border Patrol Strategy, CBP is the authoritative law enforcement agency charged to protect the nation's borders and ensure that the United States is not penetrated by terrorists, unauthorized migrants, human smugglers, human traffickers, drug smugglers, or contraband.7 Under the auspices of a new directorate, the priority mission of the USBP is homeland security, defined as "nothing less than preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons - including potential weapons of mass destruction - from entering the United States." 8 The priority mission functionally establishes and maintains operational control of the United States border between the ports of entry (POE). On the other hand, it is CBP's mission to control the United States border as a whole. The aftermath of 9/11 caused policy makers to expand the traditional mission to include preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, in addition to "interdicting illegal aliens and drugs and those who attempt to smuggle them across our borders." 9 The USBP's area of operation and responsibility is between land and sea POE, which extends across 7,000 miles of border with Canada and Mexico and 12,000 miles of coastal borders.

Border Strategy, 1994-2004

While the USBP patrols both the northern and southern borders, 90 percent of USBP resources are deployed along the United States-Mexico Border (USMB) because it is considered the focal point for illegal immigration with ninety-seven percent of all illegal alien apprehensions.10 The four border states along the USMB are divided into nine USBP Sectors: San Diego and El Centro, California; Yuma and Tucson, Arizona; El Paso (New Mexico and two counties in Texas); Marfa, Del Rio, Laredo and McAllen, Texas. While these four states share a geopolitical and geo-physical border with Mexico, they do not share the same topography, climate, or challenges. Accordingly, the USBP faces the challenge of developing different operational tactics and techniques for each sector.

Tucson Sector represents forty-three percent of the total annual Southwest USBP's apprehensions.11 This percentage indicates that most of the illegal cross-border activity occurs within 262 miles of the total 2,000 miles of international border with Mexico.12 Table 1 indicates that in the past decade the Tucson Sector has become the most active in terms of illegal cross-border activity, with a significant increase in total apprehensions along the Southwest border: from eight percent in 1993 to forty-three percent in 2004.

Table of U.S. Border Patrol Apprehension Statistics 1993-2004

Table 1. United States Border Patrol Apprehension Statistics 1993 - 2004. From: United States Border Patrol, "Apprehension Statistics 1993 -2004: Data Presented in Actual Numbers and as a Percentage of Total Southwest Apprehensions,"

According to the INS, this phenomenon is a tactical dimension of the INS' National Strategic Plan, which accounts for various ways to control the influx of illegal immigration in the concentrated border areas of San Diego and El Paso. In 1994, the INS focused enforcement efforts in San Diego and El Paso; the goal was to shift migrants outside of the urban area, to more open areas, a strategic and tactical intention of INS. The intention was not to shift migrants into different jurisdictions; instead it was to continue shifting the migrants and break up criminal networks by gaining control in the less secure areas over time. As indicated by the USBP Chief David Aguilar:

Historically, major CBP Border Patrol initiatives, such as Operation Hold the Line, Operation Gatekeeper, and Operation Rio Grande in our El Paso, San Diego, and McAllen Sectors, respectively, have had great border enforcement impact on illegal migration patterns along the southwest border, proving that a measure of control is possible. Together, these border security operations have laid the foundation for newer strategies and enforcement objectives and an ambitious goal to gain control of our Nation's borders, particularly our border with Mexico.13

Border security experts argue that the border security strategy is at a stage where the migration flow is concentrated in Arizona. However, this concentration can be due to changes in leadership, administrations and a non-continuous flow of resources to these less secure areas, leaving the Tucson Sector as the primary gateway for illegal cross-border activity along the USMB. The various border operations mentioned in Chief Aguilar's testimony are part of the first phases of the overall national border security strategy developed in the early 1990s. DHS is developing and implementing new strategies - such as the Arizona Border Control Initiative - to continue the border security strategy's second phase in minimizing the vulnerabilities along the international border.

A review of USBP strategy from 1993 to 2004 will help illuminate how these particular USBP strategies led to the current challenges faced by the Arizona Tucson Sector. The build-up of border enforcement along the USMB first started in the early 1990s under the Clinton Administration, in response to public concern about illegal immigration from Mexico and its effect on public services and employment in the United States.14 Experts called for a strategy that would simultaneously increase tighter enforcement of United States immigration laws while the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) spurred Mexican economic growth. Together, these experts asserted, both would help reduce the flow of illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States. Consequently, INS designed several border security strategies to prevent illegal cross-border activity. These strategies derived from a mixture of community policing theory and a low-intensity warfare concept. In addition, the challenges along the border were concentrated, and the need to protect the international border from illegal entry caused border security experts to research and implement new theories. Border security strategies focused on deterrence by deploying large numbers of border patrol agents, increasing the hours of actual border patrolling, and enhancing border security technology. These resources were deployed to strategically designated areas of the Southwest border with the greatest number of crime and disorder. During this period, the San Diego and El Paso sectors represented the gateways used by 70-80 percent of the unauthorized migrants entering the United States.15 The strategy made sense and the demand for federal response resulted in the implementation of this strategy with the greatest border security funding appropriation in United States history.

Rather than spread the resources across the entire USMB, the INS "concentrated border enforcement strategies" were implemented in four specific segments of the international border: Operation Hold-the-Line in El Paso, Texas in 1993, Operation Gatekeeper in San Diego in 1994, Operation Rio Grande for South Texas in 1997, and Operation Safeguard in central Arizona in 1995.16 These strategies were developed with the intention of increasing the USBP's probability of apprehension to a level that would deter potential migrants from crossing into El Paso or San Diego. Eventually, the intent was for border crossers to "spread the word" on the difficulty of entering the United States (without being apprehended) to potential migrants and deter them from leaving their hometowns in Mexico and other countries.

Operation Safeguard began operations in 1999 in Nogales, Arizona. It was not until 1999 that USBP in Arizona began to participate in the concentrated border enforcement strategy. Some experts argue that this was because Arizona contains extensive natural hazards, which were perceived as a deterrent to migrants attempting a clandestine entry into the United States. Former INS Commissioner Doris Meissner believed no one would risk their lives to illegally cross the border in areas of formidable mountains and extreme desert temperatures.17 Essentially, "Mother Nature" would take care of USBP's responsibility. However, experts were incorrect in this assumption, as seen by the significant loss of life by many migrants attempting to cross in these geographically desolate areas.18

A Strategy for the Next Decade

Our nation is still facing a steady increase in the number of illegal immigrants residing in our communities along with an increase in the number of deaths in the desert; both demonstrate that the current border enforcement system is flawed.19 Roughly ten years after the implementation of the INS Strategic Plan, border security remains a critical national mission. Throughout this period, the United States has increased funding for immigration control and border security initiatives. These increases have not translated into a more secure border and are still deemed inadequate to meet the post-9/11 mission. According to the Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Institute, the border enforcement policy was unsuccessful because "despite extensive surveillance, the border remains porous because of the stretches of desert it crosses and Mexico's established smuggling networks."20 This premise was a component of the INS National Strategic Plan, yet the border remains insecure.

While these border security efforts had a significant impact in the San Diego and El Paso Sector, less secure sectors are suffering from the incomplete multi-phase implementation of the National Border Strategy. The ASB current border insecurity situation is due to the incomplete implementation of the National Border Strategy Phase II; insufficient resources continue to be deployed within the Tucson Sector.

Two main factors contribute to the ever-increasing demands placed upon border security resources along the USMB. First, the pressure of enhanced law enforcement strategies in certain sectors has resulted in a shift of migrants from more secure urban areas to those rural communities that are less protected and populated.21 For example, as crime rates dropped in San Diego and El Paso, due to more concentrated border security efforts, the Tucson Sector experienced an increase in illegal activity supplemented by violent crimes of auto-theft, extortion, rape, and homicide. Moreover, on a statewide basis, both Arizona and Sonora are currently facing higher crime rates. Arizona ranks first in auto-theft and third in homicide in the United States, while Sonora ranks third in homicide in Mexico.22

Second, Mexico is experiencing an influx of Islamic migrants.23 Conceivably, as the United States government increases security measures and tightens immigration law, potential terrorists may seek the assistance of human smugglers to infiltrate the porous international border. If this proves to be the case, then the policymakers should ask the same question that Arizona Senator Kyl posed on August 27, 2004: "Why wouldn't those seeking to attack America be tempted to join the hundreds of thousands already illegally entering from Mexico?"24 In fact, intelligence collected from domestic and international law enforcement communities indicates that terrorists are seeking other means to enter the United States.25 As terrorist organizations continue to network in Mexico and exploit sophisticated organized smuggling rings, the USBP could seemingly be faced with a new paradigm: human smugglers, colloquially known as Coyotes, as potential terrorist partners.

As noted, in the early 1990s the USBP launched a concentrated border security strategy in the El Paso and San Diego Sectors causing migrants and smugglers to move their operations to less secure sectors along the USMB. The United States General Accounting Office report suggests that these strategies showed positive results for both sectors. However, the remaining seven sectors along the Southwest border saw an increase in illegal cross-border activity, particularly the Tucson Sector. In 1993, the San Diego Sector represented 43.6 percent of the Southwest border apprehensions, and the El Paso Sector represented 23.6 percent.26 Yet, as the USBP claimed victory in the San Diego and El Paso Sectors with a reduction in apprehensions by 6 percent and 72 percent, respectively, the Tucson Sector experienced an increase of 50 percent.27 This increase is a clear indication of the balloon effect along the USMB: the displacement of illegal cross-border activity to another, less secure, sector of the international border. This phenomenon was an intended consequence of the National Strategic Plan and demonstrated that the border control efforts in the San Diego and El Paso Sectors were working. However, the migrant flow shift was not intended to stop in the USBP Tucson Sector; instead, the intent was to continuously shift migrants from one sector to another causing disruption of organized smuggling rings. This strategy derives from the theory of hot spots and the practice of community-oriented policing.

Place-oriented crime prevention strategies, a component of community policing, are commonly used by law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. The theory behind place-oriented crime prevention suggests that crime occurs in clusters, or "hot spots," and is not evenly distributed throughout the United States. As defined by the United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs:

A hot spot is an area that has a greater than average number of criminal or disorder events, or an area where people have a higher than average risk of victimization. This suggests the existence of cool spots - places or areas with less than average amount of crime or disorder.28

This phenomenon is used by individuals every day, evidenced by the places people tend to avoid given their probability of victimization. This suggests that crime is not evenly distributed. One can deduce that the National Strategic Plan drew from this theory; this is evident because resources were focused in the urban areas. The USBP continues to implement strategies that are complementary to community policing. Experts suggest that this "hot spots" phenomenon is supported by three complementary theories: environmental criminology, routine activities, and rational choice. Environmental criminology theory explores and analyzes the environment in which a criminal act is conducted. The analysis takes into consideration the criminal interaction with targets, the opportunities across space and time, and the characteristics of the area, such as safe havens. Routine activities theory is based on the notion that in the absence of a capable guardian, crime occurs when the bandit comes into close proximity of a potential target. Rational choice theory is based on the belief that bandits are capable of making their own decisions and opt to commit crime in order to benefit.

Another interesting analysis that is drawn from community-policing is that as law enforcement pressure is applied in "hot spots," crimes begin to emerge in "cool spots." Experts claim "focused police interventions, such as directed patrols, proactive arrests, and problem solving, can produce significant crime prevention gains at high-crime 'hot spots.' " 29 In a nutshell, "hot spot" policing suggests that if the environment is manipulated (i.e., increased patrols, arrests, etc.), then victims and offenders have fewer interactions and bandits have fewer opportunities to commit crimes, which ultimately results in a decrease in the crime rate. In addition, once a "hot spot" is controlled and crime has decreased, bandits will move to a less patrolled area to continue their criminal activities. These criminal migrations are occurring at the Southwest border. Apprehension statistics are a clear indication that illegal border crossers (IBC) have migrated to areas less patrolled by USBP, such as the Tucson Sector.

The USBP has focused its resources in the urban areas along the international border for a variety of reasons, such as preventing bandits from interacting with border community residents and restricting bandits from access to safe havens or camouflaging into the community. In addition, the balloon effect experienced in the Tucson Sector parallels the concept of "hot spots" in urban areas. Once the community policing addresses a "hot spot" crime area, the crime moves into a less policed area. Similarly, when the USBP focuses enforcement efforts along the USMB, migrants and bandits move into less secured sectors. This shift was the intention of the USBP's concentrated border security strategy. Therefore, USBP was not surprised to see bandits and smugglers moving towards the Tucson Sector.

Why, then, isn't the USBP Tucson Sector prepared to handle the influx of migrants? The answer could be a combination of issues - politics, resources, or the simple notion that geographical constraints would be a sufficient deterrent for migrants entering the United States. The United States government must continue to develop and implement timely border security strategies that take into consideration the movement of illegal activities along the border in order to successfully secure the USMB, as described above. However, the post-9/11 need to protect the United States from another terrorist attack requires intelligence analysts to observe for potential emerging terrorist threats along the international border and then quickly address these threats with stealth and innovation.

One Solution: The ASB Model

While the efforts of Congress and the USBP continue, the illegal immigration problem persists and becomes increasingly divisive in communities nationwide. The current deployment and employment of resources must be revisited to increase efficiency and alleviate the challenges along the USMB. The application of force along the border, without the proper use of intelligence to modify the use of force in a timely and adequate manner along the USMB, could potentially accelerate the "balloon effect." The use of the Arizona-Sonora Border (ASB) model or a similar border model would allow strategists to minimize the geographical displacement effects prior to applying force along the USMB.

The ASB model is an analytic model that incorporates factors relevant to the problem of illegal cross-border activity in the USBP Tucson Sector. While a model can never fully reflect the true complexity of illegal cross-border activity factors, illegal cross-border activity has some structural features that lend themselves to analytical modeling. In other words, illegal cross-border activity is not a random event; it exhibits organized and structured occurrences and can be modeled. The ASB model is a "plug and play" model that can assist in forecasting what may occur along the border within a five day window, given certain IBCs' distribution and USBP resource deployment. The model does not project actual numbers of IBCs, but rather the success rate of the USBP as a function of the infiltration and migration patterns, and the resources mix. Given a certain distribution of IBCs, and different migration rates, the question is: how should USBP Border Security resources be deployed to be most effective? Specifically, the model examines the effect of apprehension rates (which depend on the resources mix) on the number of IBCs that successfully evade the USBP. Given the functional relation, one can calculate the desired deployment of resources in order to optimize effectiveness.

The purpose of the ASB model is to assist policymakers and operational planners to address the problem of illegal cross-border activity with a logical and systematic approach. The mathematical model can help organize, articulate, and analyze the essential problems in the USBP Tucson Sector. The ASB model provides insight into the complex interdependencies that exist in establishing and maintaining control of the international border with Mexico. It captures the interactions among the location and intensity of cross-border activities, apprehension rates, and migration rates. This model is an attempt to offer a mathematical solution to the problem of optimal deployment of border security resources in the USBP Tucson Sector along the ASB. The appropriate employment and deployment of border security resources can minimize illegal cross-border activity and reduce the border's vulnerabilities.


The ASB model examines illegal cross-border activity situations in the USBP Tucson Sector, or any part of it, and forecasts the effectiveness of USBP border security resources deployment. Although this model is specific to the USBP Tucson Sector, it can be implemented anywhere along the Southwest Border with minor modifications. The ASB model demonstrates that by increasing border security enforcement efforts, it may augment humanitarian concerns along the USMB. As migrants move away from high enforcement areas to low enforcement areas, in other words, they move away from areas where the border security enforcement is more effective, and are thus exposed to greater natural hazards. Therefore, as operational planners and policy makers develop new strategies, these humanitarian concerns and consequences need to be taken into consideration in order to reduce deaths in the desert and improve bi-national relations with Mexico.

Karina J. Ordóñez is the strategic policy coordinator for the Arizona Department of Homeland Security. In this capacity, she is the primary advisor to the deputy director in matters pertaining to national policy and serves as the state agency liaison focusing on public health, agro-terrorism, bioterrorism, and disaster preparedness. Special projects in her portfolio include developing the State Homeland Security Strategy and the State Infrastructure Protection Plan. She is a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

End notes

1. Office of Homeland Security, National Strategy for Homeland Security (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, July 2002), 21.

2. This paper is drawn from Karina J. Ordóñez, Modeling the U.S. Border Patrol Tucson Sector for the Deployment and Operations of Border Security Forces, M.A. thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, 2006.

3. United States Border Patrol, "Apprehension Statistics 1993 -2004: Data Presented in Actual Numbers and as a Percentage of Total Southwest Apprehensions" (2005),

4. La Paz Agreement defined the border region as 100 km north and 100 km south of the United States-Mexico International border. See "La Paz Agreement," (August 14, 1983). Text of the La Paz Agreement, including Annex I-V is available at

5. United States Bureau of the Census, Annual Estimates of the Population for Counties of Arizona: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2004, COEST2004-01-04 (Washington DC: Population Division, United States Census Bureau, 2005), and El Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas, Geográfica e Informática (the Mexican Bureau of Statistics, Geography and Computer Science), Estadísticas de Población por Estado (Population Statistics by State), 2000.

6. Office of Homeland Security, National Strategy for Homeland Security (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, July 2002), 2.

7. The Labor Appropriation Act of 1924 established the United States Border Patrol in response to rising illegal entries particularly along land borders.

8. Robert C. Bonner, National Border Patrol Strategy: Message from the Commissioner (Washington DC: United States Customs and Border Protection, Office of Border Patrol and the Office of Policy and Planning, September 2004).

9. Ibid.

10. Lisa Seghetti, et al., "Border Security and the Southwest Border: Background, Legislation, and Issues," #RL33106 (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, September 28, 2005): 21.

11. United States Border Patrol. "Apprehension Statistics 1993 -2004."

12. The illegal cross-border activity accounted for is the activity that is observed and interdicted.

13. David Aguilar, United States Border Patrol Chief, testimony before the House Committee on Appropriations and Subcommittee on Homeland Security, July 12, 2005.

14. Wayne Cornelius, "Controlling 'Unwanted' Immigration: Lessons from the United States, 1993 - 2004" (San Diego, CA: University of California Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, December 2004), 2.

15. Ibid., 6.

16. The majority of resources for Operation Safeguard did not arrive until 1999.

17. Cornelius, "Controlling 'Unwanted' Immigration," 6.

18. Bill Vann, "Five Years of Operation Gatekeeper: U.S. Border Crackdown Deaths Souring," International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), June 25, 1999,

19. Jeffrey Passel, "Unauthorized Migrants: Numbers and Characteristics," Pew Hispanic Center, June 14, 2005.

20. Richard B. Schmitt, et al., "U.S. Fears Terrorism Via Mexico's Time-Tested Smuggling Routes," SITE Institute, September 15, 2004,

21. This is one theory with regards to the displacement of migrants along the USMB. An alternative theory is the economic growth rates experienced in Phoenix and Las Vegas. These two cities are experiencing a fast growth rate followed by an increase in construction and employment. This boom in jobs in Nevada and Arizona causes the illegal migrant flow to switch to follow the employment opportunities.

22. Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, Arizona Crime Trends: A System Review, Statistical Analysis Center Publication, July 22, 2005, Consejo de Seguridad Publica, "Programa de Mediano Plazo 2004 -2009: Seguridad Publica,"

23. A few days after 9/11, Mexican authorities detained 126 undocumented Iraqis in Mexico City. Since all Middle Easterners are supposed to have a VISA to enter the country, this presented a new problem for Mexican authorities: how did these people enter the country? Centro de Investigaciones Económicas y Política de Acción Comunitaria, "Guerra Mundial: Consecuencias Para México," November 21, 2001,

24. Senator Jon Kyl, "Arizona: a 'Terrorist Corridor?'" Guest Opinion, The Arizona Conservative, August 27, 2004,

25. Admiral James Loy, United States Department of Homeland Security deputy secretary, testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, February 16, 2005.

26. United States General Accounting Office, Border Control: Revised Strategy is Showing Positive Results, Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Information, Justice, Transportation and Agriculture, Committee on Government Operations, House of Representatives, Washington DC, December 1994: 11.

27. Ibid.

28. Office of Justice Programs, Mapping Crime: Understanding Hot Spots (Washington DC: United States Department of Justice, August 2005),

29. Ibid.

Note: This article was originally published in the April 2008 edition of Homeland Security Affairs.


The El Paso Intelligence Center: Beyond the Border

Anthony P. Placido, Chief of Intelligence, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

Reprinted with permission from Police Chief Magazine.

Photo showing views of El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC)

On a sleety, cold afternoon in mid-January, Mississippi Highway Patrol troopers stopped a freight truck on Interstate 10 in Jackson County for not displaying a U.S. Department of Transportation number. While the troopers were inspecting the vehicle, they became suspicious of the driver's story that he was returning from New Jersey, where his cargo of rotting oranges-still in the trailer-was rejected. Officer Ricky Lott made a quick call to the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC). Five minutes later, EPIC alerted Officer Lott that the driver was a known drug smuggler with prior arrests in Florida on charges of money laundering and smuggling 8,600 pounds of marijuana across the border a decade earlier.

Based on the information EPIC provided, Officer Lott immediately had a better understanding of his situation that afternoon. He and his colleagues obtained consent to search the truck. Hidden among the rotting oranges they found $1.2 million in U.S. currency. The money was seized and the suspect was arrested; as a result, that much less drug money was available to line the pockets of foreign drug cartels. The cost of getting the additional information needed to stop the suspect: one toll-free telephone call that lasted five minutes.

Half a world away from Mississippi, EPIC research was vital to one of England's most critically important investigations. Shortly after the London subway bombings in July 2005, European Command contacted EPIC and requested that researchers there run the names of four of the bombing suspects through the EPIC databases. EPIC's analysis showed that one suspect had visited the United States, entering with a British passport, and located his address in Cleveland, Ohio, as well as the address of the apartment complex in which his mother frequently stayed. At the apartment, investigators learned that another individual residing there had an international terrorist connection and was responsible for funding terrorist activities. EPIC research also identified 16 other people in the terrorist cell within the United States.

These investigations demonstrate what EPIC does best: collect, analyze, and share with law enforcement organizations sensitive information that turns suspicion into probable cause, contraband into evidence, and suspects into criminal defendants.

A Jewel in the Desert

Situated in the west Texas desert, a stone's throw from the shallow Rio Grande and within view of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico-home to one of Mexico's most brutal drug cartels-sits EPIC. Its proximity to the Juarez cartel is an irony not lost on EPIC personnel, who provide real-time intelligence that helps law enforcement target the U.S. distribution networks of the Juarez and other drug cartels at every turn. Except for the palm trees out front, EPIC looks like any other government building. But a look inside reveals the extraordinary nerve center of the fight against transnational crime as well as a high-tech web of law enforcement databases. Led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), EPIC is staffed by 15 federal agencies from the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Transportation, and Defense, as well as state, county, and soon municipal law enforcement organizations.

Hundreds of special agents, intelligence analysts, computer and communications specialists, translators, technology experts, and support staff sift through complex, seemingly unrelated pieces of information. Fashioning useful intelligence by tying together the available data, the whole staff works to build probable cause for the apprehensions, asset seizures, indictments, and arrests of entire criminal organizations and their networks, thereby demolishing them. No other agency in the United States provides this kind of real-time tactical support to the law enforcement community with such a wide range of simultaneous database queries.

Beyond the Southwestern Border

IACP president Joseph Carter held an IACP Executive Committee meeting at EPIC in December 2006 at the invitation of DEA administrator Karen P. Tandy. In April of this year, EPIC hosted members of the IACP's Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Committee. These visits gave IACP leadership the opportunity to observe the internal workings of EPIC and see firsthand the broad support that EPIC provides to law enforcement. As a result of its visit, the committee is considering a resolution making EPIC the site of a two-week rotation for IACP-sponsored law enforcement personnel.

Every police executive should know that EPIC is a tremendously valuable free resource for local officers. The benefits of working with EPIC have been relatively unknown until now, in part because officers thousands of miles from the southwestern U.S. border do not realize that EPIC's intelligence is not limited to the actual border area itself. Karen Tandy hopes to change the perception that EPIC is helpful only to law enforcement in border states: "While EPIC always has had a southwest border address and focus, it also has a long history of information sharing that extends into the heartland of America and provides support to police in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. This information sharing is vital to officer safety, interdiction efforts, and investigations everywhere-not just along the border."

Last year, EPIC handled more than 75,000 queries from federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers in all 50 states. With the expanding need for timely and accurate information, particularly since the tragedy of the September 11 terrorist attacks, EPIC not only provides a resource that the entire community-and most especially state and municipal departments-can rely on, but also intends soon to improve access to its resources for a wider range of customers.

Graphic showing systems and databases avialable for query

Protection of Sensitive Information

Over the years, EPIC has quietly learned to strike the right balance between the desire to share information and the need to protect sensitive intelligence sources and methods. This balance is achieved by carefully managing dissemination of information through a tiered-access system, where prospective users are carefully screened so that they can receive information from closed investigations or from nonsensitive sources immediately. When users request information related to an ongoing sensitive investigation or source, they are notified that information is available and are provided with contact information for the relevant personnel. This pointer mechanism allows users to negotiate access to sensitive information on a case-specific basis while maintaining immediate access to a much larger set of less sensitive information.

EPIC has vast data holdings that include information from many federal, state, and local agencies (see figure 1). As the center has grown, it also has taken on the role of information hub for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) investigative support centers as it continues to provide direct support to an ever-expanding list of participating agencies. Most of the information from this wide array of databases can be gathered instantly with a single query of EPIC's confederated databases.

Three Ways EPIC Can Help

The heart and soul of the 33-year-old center is EPIC Watch, a communications center that takes inquiries from law enforcement by phone, facsimile, or e-mail 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. EPIC has unique access to information concerning aircraft, vessels, and firearms. Subject matter experts are available through the Watch to answer questions; trace weapons; or place lookouts for suspect vehicles, vessels, or aircraft.

With a single call to EPIC, an officer who has pulled over a subject can determine if the individual has a record of being armed or dangerous; if the vehicle has recently crossed the border from Mexico; or if any of the individuals in the vehicle are currently or previously have been the subject of any investigations. In short, this single point of contact and the rapid access to the broadest possible array of information provides law enforcement officers with three principal benefits: enabling officers to make better-informed judgments, protecting their safety, and increasing their likelihood of success.

The first benefit EPIC can provide is to give state and local police officers the kind of information they need to make better decisions. For example, when one Ohio state highway patrolman stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation, the officer noticed that the car had a fraudulent temporary registration, making him suspicious of the driver and passenger. He called EPIC Watch and asked for a full records check. EPIC responded with the information that the passenger had numerous drug-related offenses dating back to 1995 and that the suspect was known to conceal contraband in certain locations. After having obtained consent to search the car, the trooper discovered 90 kilograms of cocaine hidden in false compartments.

In addition, EPIC's information can protect officers. Art Doty, director of EPIC, notes that the center's typical customer is "alone officer or deputy sheriff who has a suspicious vehicle pulled over on a lonely stretch of road in the middle of the night." Many times a search of EPIC's databases have alerted officers that the individual they have pulled over on a traffic stop is known to be armed and dangerous, a violent felon, or a fugitive from the law. Certainly it's the kind of information any officer wants to know-the kind of information that saves officers' lives.

Finally, intelligence obtained from EPIC can increase the likelihood of case success-and even increase the investigative impact of some cases. Consider the following example. Texas Department of Public Safety officers seized $785,000 from a freight truck in December 2005. Fingerprints on the seized money wrappers were identified as belonging to a fugitive who is a member of Los Zetas, the enforcement arm of the Gulf cartel. The DEA's Houston office asked EPIC to help identify the fugitive's assets. EPIC discovered 14 businesses, 22 real property assets, and 79 conveyances, with a total value of $3.3 million. So far, the DEA has seized two of the fugitive's houses, with seizures on the other assets pending.

Free and Easy

The best part about EPIC may be its cost: nothing. It's completely free to join and easy to do so. Figure 2 provides information on how to apply for participation. After receiving an application, EPIC personnel process it, vet the applying department's officers, and grant access in a short time-anywhere from a day to a couple of weeks, depending on the size of the department. Once officers have access, it's as easy as dialing, toll-free, 1-888-USE-EPIC.

The DEA is making access to EPIC even easier and better than ever. The center's new open connectivity project is about to make EPIC's vast pool of information more readily available to federal, state, and local police officials via an inexpensive, secure Internet connection. The first phase of this effort, already under way, allows participating agencies to both provide and retrieve information from the National Seizure System and the Clandestine Laboratory Seizure System. These systems provide a comprehensive picture (using geospatial information system technology) of drug, currency, weapon, and laboratory seizures-literally mapping out such seizures to assist law enforcement in tactical and strategic planning efforts. Ultimately, this secure Web portal will allow authorized users to gain access via the Internet to the same sensitive law enforcement and investigative data that are currently available by contacting EPIC Watch.

Cop-to-Cop Discussions

In addition to housing data from participating agencies, the center has its own unique internal database that contains a 33-year history of the law enforcement agencies and officers who have made inquiries about particular suspects, vehicles, vessels, or aircraft. The center keeps this critical information because the concealed compartment that was empty during one traffic stop may not be on the next encounter. EPIC's internal database and the use of pointer information overcome one of the major obstacles to information sharing: promoting "cop-to-cop" discussions and facilitating the sharing of critical information that was never put in writing and does not appear in any automated database.

Research and Analysis: There for the Asking

EPIC augments its critical Watch function by performing analyses of drug movement events, trends, and patterns, as well as research and analysis of criminal organizations. The resulting bulletins and reports are routinely sent to participating state and local departments, alerting them to the latest drug trafficking information. For example, in December 2006, EPIC distributed a bulletin that included an analysis of 261 drug seizure incidents along highways in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina that showed drug smuggling patterns in the last year.

EPIC reports can also notify recipients of dangers that officers could encounter, such as new developments in hidden weapons or explosives.


Since the implementation of the Operation Pipeline drug interdiction program, EPIC has hosted Operation Pipeline schools throughout the United States. Pipeline training is one of the most practical training sessions available in law enforcement. Instructors for these three-day schools include fellow officers with years of experience in highway interdiction and local prosecutors and assistant U.S. attorneys who instruct officers on the laws and policies governing highway stops. All Pipeline schools include general core instruction on such topics as development of probable cause; asset forfeiture and asset sharing; concealment detection and hidden compartments; violator indicators; interview techniques; record checks and information sharing; and intelligence exchange among federal, state, and local agencies, as well as a practical exercise at a highway interdiction site.

Graphic showing access information to EPIC access list

Officers attending Pipeline schools are instructed to identify and articulate, both in spoken and written form, "specific indicators" that, when viewed collectively, give the officer reasonable suspicion that a motorist has violated the law. EPIC conducts between 20 and 25 Pipeline schools each year at no charge to the police departments.

Under the Operation Jetway program, EPIC also offers a more limited schedule of similar on-site instruction for officers involved in interdiction at airports, bus stations, train terminals, and commercial package services. The instruction program is similar to that of the Pipeline schools, with expanded emphasis on methods of concealment unique to packages and luggage.

To further enhance training opportunities for state and local agencies, EPIC allows free access to and use of its 140-seat conference center as a venue for training or other functions for the law enforcement community. The conference center has state-of-the-art audiovisual and computer capabilities and can accommodate sensitive and classified-subject presentations.

Standard Operating Procedure

EPIC has taken to heart the timeless adage that "all the information in the world is useless unless you get it to someone that can use it." Getting the right information to the right person at the right time is standard operating procedure. The kind of information that the center can provide to police departments leads to important seizures and arrests that ultimately prevent drugs from getting into the hands of Americans and drug money from getting into the hands of traffickers. From Maine to Miami, San Diego to Seattle and anywhere in between, EPIC is a resource that no department can afford to ignore.

Note: This article was originally published in the 6 June 2007 edition of Police Chief Magazine, Vol. 74. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA. Further reproduction without the express permission from IACP is strictly prohibited.



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