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In a hastily called administration media briefing, Gov. Jim Justice announced he was committing 50 soldiers and airmen from the West Virginia National Guard to Texas “to help respond to the crisis at the southern border.”
Justice said he was one of several governors responding to a letter from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requesting aid at the border.
“I have approved the deployment of members of the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) to help secure our border, reduce the flood of fentanyl, and combat the human trafficking crisis,” Justice said in a follow up press release.
Justice said training (with weapons) is already underway for the 50 volunteers. He said they are scheduled to go in August for a period of 30 days, but they may be stationed there longer.
The WVNG members will work alongside the Texas National Guard and Texas law enforcement partners to detect, deter, and interdict transnational criminal activity between points of entry. The mission is called Operation Lone Star as a part of an Emergency Management Assistance Compact from Texas.
Justice said the border mission will not interfere with the WVNG members who continue to assist in the state’s corrections personnel crisis.
He said West Virginia has to step up in this case for self-protection.
“If you don’t think there’s a serious problem at the border that affects West Virginia, you’re out of your mind. I mean, the flow of fentanyl for one thing is just absolutely at an epidemic stage,” he said.