A month ago, Gov. Henry McMaster offered to send SC National Guard troops to Texas to help fight illegal immigration along the Mexican border. Friday, the Governor officially announced one Army National Guard helicopter and approximately nine Soldiers and crew will leave for the area the week of May 13. Here’s what we know.
The crew scheduled for deployment is headquartered at the Donaldson Center in Greenville and are expected to arrive in Austin, Texas on or about May 19. An additional South Carolina Army National Guard UH-72 with crew is expected to join them in June.
According to www.nationalguard.com, the UH-72A LAKOTA is a Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) that provides a flexible response to Homeland Security requirements such as search and rescue operations, reconnaissance and surveillance, and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions. The LUH is to be deployed only to non-combat, non-hostile environments. It has seating for two pilots and up to six passengers or two NATO standard litters. Learn more here. The helicopter being deployed is from the 2-151 Security and Support Aviation Battalion, 2.
In a statement, Gov. McMaster said the men and women of the South Carolina National Guard are highly-trained and "ready and able to support President Trump's mission to secure our country's border, and out entire state is grateful for their service and sacrifice.
Adjutant general for South Carolina, U.S. Army Maj. Gen, Robert E. Livingston, Jr. said this mission is about helping neighbors. He added South Carolina's soldiers are well-trained and experienced with this type of mission. Soldiers have conducted border support in 2016, 2012 and in 2007 for Operation Jump Start.
Previous Border Security Missions for the South Carolina National Guard include:
-In the late 1990s: the 122nd Engineer Battalion and 122d Engineer Company built part of the existing Border Wall in the San Diego area.
-In 2007: the South Carolina Army National Guard’s 2-151 Security & Support Battalion provided 2-OH58 Kiowa aircraft and 20 personnel in support of security operations along the Arizona-Mexico border in 2007 for Operation Jump Start.
-In 2012: the South Carolina Army National Guard was specifically tasked by National Guard Bureau to stand up a command element in support of the Texas Military Department to provide surveillance support to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. They provided command and control assets along with 2 UH-72 Lakota helicopters out of the 12 and 25 Soldiers of the approximately 60 for their mission, which was called Operation Phalanx. It was a joint operation that also included assets providing border support in Arizona, New Mexico along with Texas. Other states continued rotating for this mission, where the South Carolina Army National Guard has filled in gaps for short durations, sending individual Soldiers and UH-72 helicopters.
-In 2016: the South Carolina Army National Guard again supported Operation Phalanx, providing 15 Soldiers of the approximately 45 and 2 UH-72 Lakota helicopters of the 8.