Helicopters From The Oregon Army National Guard Are Travelling To The Border With Texas

To assist the U.S. Border Patrol, the Oregon Army National Guard is dispatching helicopter squadrons to the states in the southwest.

According to Lt. Col. Stephen Bomar of the Oregon Guard’s public affairs office, UH-72A Lakotas and crews will be working alongside the North Dakota Guard to establish a battalion on the border. The duty of the aviation unit is to provide flying assets in support of all Border Patrol missions. Four of the roughly 30 Oregon employees, according to him, live in the counties of Umatilla and Morrow.

This includes Pendleton’s Chief Warrant Officer 4, Dave Long, who claimed in July that he would be flying Lakotas along the southwest border.

The mission would not be simple, he declared. “We’ll fly every evening. Our goal is to prevent the cross-border trafficking of fentanyl, meth, and other illicit narcotics as well as human trafficking and the distribution of humanitarian aid to those in need. But on this deployment, I’ll put all of my abilities and experience to use bringing everyone home.

According to Dr Sean Hurst, the state medical examiner, Oregon saw 237 overdose deaths linked to fentanyl in the first half of 2021, compared to 230 in all of 2020 and 75 in 2019. The total figures for 2021 weren’t in his office.

On Wednesday, September 7, the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for Oregon announced that a Gresham man is indicted on federal charges for trafficking fentanyl, which led to the overdose death of a 17-year-old Portland teen.

Long, 52, claimed he volunteered for the mission despite being able to retire. He is one of the few inspectors for the Federal Aviation Administration that specialises in helicopters. He served in Afghanistan on two occasions with the Oregon Army National Guard’s CH-47 Chinook unit, which is stationed at Pendleton’s Eastern Oregon Regional Airport.

Oregon Army National Guard Are Travelling To The Border
Oregon Army National Guard Are Travelling To The Border

Assisting With Border Missions

“Since the Oregon militia was formed, we have supported border missions,” Bomar said. “Aviation has been used as well, such as in Operation Jump Start in 2006. This one doesn’t have a name. We’re not planning on a press release. It’s a domestic operation, unlike deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The Guard welcomed families to a ceremony held in honour of deploying members on October 7.

According to the Defense Visual Information Service, the Salem-based Detachment 1, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 112 Aviation Regiment of the Oregon Army National Guard got four brand-new UH-72A Lakota helicopters in 2012.

The OH-58 Kiowa was replaced by the Lakota as the newest light utility helicopter for the Army. Homeland security, search and rescue, emergency response, and anti-drug enforcement missions are all supported by the Lakota.

Federal agencies make requests for National Guard assistance, according to Bomar. Theoretically, all mission types could be supported. How they intend to use our helicopters is something you’d have to ask the Border Patrol.

According to Bomar, certain deployment-related information must be kept private for operational security and family safety.

It’s a typical 400-day federal assignment with leave, according to Bomar.

Family and friends can visit soldiers on the border, in contrast to overseas downrange deployments.

Higher headquarters

The Lakota detachment will work with Joint Task Force North, a multi-service effort led by the US Department of Defense to combat drugs and terrorism. The headquarters of JTFN is located at Fort Bliss, Texas’s Biggs Army Airfield.

According to JTFN Public Affairs Director Eduardo Natividad, “Aviators from seven states and the U.S. Virgin Islands are providing rotary wing aviation support to Customs and Border Protection for the fiscal year 2023.”

The Customs and Border Protection division of the Department of Homeland Security is home to the United States Border Patrol, a federal law enforcement organisation. It is in charge of guarding American borders. According to its website, its goals are to “defend the American people, safeguard our borders, and boost the nation’s economic success.”

The Border Patrol is one of the biggest law enforcement organisations in the United States, with 19,648 agents as of 2019. Customs and Border Protection received $14.8 billion from the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending plan that President Joe Biden signed in March, a $428 million cut from the fiscal year 2021.

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