FORT BLISS, Texas --
Marines from Ground Sensor Platoon (GSP), 2nd Intelligence Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force, completed a training mission last month that is credited with making a significant contribution to the U.S. Border Patrol's efforts to detect, deter, and defeat transnational criminal organizations’ attempts to conduct drug and alien smuggling activities on the U.S. – Mexico border.
The 2nd Intel Bn. volunteered to perform the Military Support to Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies mission coordinated by Joint Task Force North, the U.S. Northern Command unit tasked to provide military support to the nation’s federal law enforcement agencies. The Camp Lejeune, N.C., based intelligence unit, which has performed similar JTF North support operations at locations throughout the U.S. Northern Command area of responsibility, executed this mission in support of the U.S. Border Patrol, Rio Grande Valley Sector.
The Marines used their state-of-the-art ground sensor systems to identify and report suspected illegal activities they detected to the federal agents patrolling the well-known South Texas alien and drug smuggling corridor.
“In the battle to secure the border the Marines are a very competent partner and made significant contributions to our efforts here in South Texas,” said Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Patrol Agent Rosendo Hinojosa. “The support provided by the Marines served as a valuable enhancement to our capabilities to secure the border and protect our nation from transnational criminal organizations.”
JTF North, South-Central Regional Support Team Leader, Lt. Col. Christopher McElveen, said, “The Marines possess a wealth of knowledge on the best techniques for emplacing their sensors to maximize the effects. Despite operating in this challenging terrain that encompasses a river, urban areas, and an accessible road network, they were extremely successful in all assigned tasks.”
The Marines proved highly effective at integrating their systems into the Rio Grande Valley Sector’s Fusion Center; thus providing current and continuous sensor detection information to the agents at the Rio Grande Valley Sector’s command center and those in the field.
“In accordance with Joint Task Force North’s mission, we provided valuable assets that supported the Border Patrol’s counter-narcotic and counter-transnational threat operations,” said U.S. Marine Corps, Ground Sensor Platoon Commander, 2nd Lt. Jack Shannon. “In providing these assets and support, the ground sensor platoon sharpened its relevant patrolling and ground sensor implantation skills --- this is real-life training --- everyone wins.”
The JTF North law enforcement support missions, which are based on Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security requests for military assistance, must provide a training benefit to the volunteer military units and personnel.
“This mission is as real as it gets without having the enemy shooting at you,” said GSP Sgt. Eric Heinl. “This mission helped the Marines understand their mission to the fullest extent without the pressures of combat.”
The homeland security support mission allowed the Marines to apply their mission planning, sensor emplacement, and detection monitoring skills, in a combined civilian interagency and military supported environment.
“This was a great way to learn, grow and help other Marines understand our mission in a real-world scenario. It also gave us the opportunity to work with other agencies like the U.S. Border Patrol, National Guard, U.S. Army, and U.S. Navy,” said Cpl. David Emery, GSP team leader.
“We were able to see the big picture of how many people are involved with protecting our nation,” Emery said.
In coordination with the JTF North mission planners and the U.S. Border Patrol military support coordinators, the GSP Marines planned the entire support operation and completed the JTF North required pre-mission training prior to their movement from Camp Lejeune to South Texas. Upon arrival at their mission site, they also received a series of mandatory mission briefings prior to the start of their support operations. The briefings included legal authorities training, which specifically outlined what the Marines could and could not do during the mission. The Marines functioned strictly in a support capacity; in accordance with the Posse Comitatus Act, they could not search, seize, detain, make arrests, or assume any law enforcement roles.
For additional information on JTF North visit: www.jtfn.northcom.mil