LATHAM, N.Y. – September 15, 2015 – The New York Army National Guard is sending one of its two UH-72 Lakota light utility helicopters and a four-member aircrew to the Arizona/Mexico border today.
The aircraft and crew will deploy to Marana, Arizona, in support of the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies to assist monitoring the Arizona/Mexico border.
The New Yorkers will fly aerial reconnaissance missions along the border, keeping watch for illicit drug and human trafficking as well as undocumented immigrants. The four-man crew will be accompanied by a Customs and Border Patrol agent on all missions. The agent has the ability to make arrests if necessary and also knows the area the crew will be patrolling.
With infrared capabilities and a high-powered searchlight, the Lakota can easily track people on the ground and coordinate with Border Patrol agents. The skills the aircrew learn on the border – working with law enforcement and conducting air search operations – can be employed in New York during disaster response missions.
This is not the first time New York National Guard troops have deployed to the border with Mexico. In 2006-2008, more than 1,000 New York National Guard Soldiers deployed to the border as part of Operation Jump Start and New York aviators have supported Arizona and Texas aerial reconnaissance missions since 2012.
And nearly a century ago, in 1916, the New York National Guard sent 17,000 members of the “New York Division” to Texas as part of a 110,000-member force mobilized by President Woodrow Wilson to prevent repeats of a raid on Brownsville, Texas, by the Mexican Revolutionary Pancho Villa. The Guardsmen served in Texas from July 1916 to February 1917.