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N.C. To Send 300 Guard Members To Patrol Border

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Mike Easley Friday deployed 300 North Carolina National Guard soldiers to one of the western states to perform border control duties.

Easley's action came after receiving a request from the National Guard Bureau of the U.S. Department of Defense. Easley also sent a letter to each of the nation’s governors urging their cooperation with border enforcement.

“Federal efforts to secure our borders do not just benefit the border states,” said Easley in his letter to the nation’s governors. “These security measures affect our entire country. I know that this added mission for the Guard may not come at a convenient time. As the governor of the second most hurricane-prone state, I would prefer not to have any of the North Carolina National Guard deployed to other states at this time.

“However, the Guard units in the western states are spread thin as they battle raging wildfires. We must all step up and do our part to keep our country safe.”

President George W. Bush's plan calls for all 50 states to send troops. Thursday, Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau in Washington, issued a statement saying that the Guard "will have 2,500 Army and Air National Guard members supporting Operation Jump Start in the four border states," by Friday.

Earlier this month, Easley, in his capacity as the lead governor on National Guard issues, testified before the federal Commission on the National Guard and Reserves regarding the National Governor’s Association’s unanimous support for maintaining current troop and equipment levels. He also assured the commissioners that all governors were committed to doing whatever is necessary to protect the security of America.

“I urge you to talk to your Adjutant General and take advantage of this opportunity to respond, when called to respond to this federal mission, and provide available troops if needed,” said Easley. “Our cooperation is critical in this mission.”

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