Pentagon eyes ways to use military for border security


WASHINGTON (AP) — Faced with growing pressure from southern states, the Bush administration wants the military to come up with ideas to help solve security problems along the U.S. border with Mexico.

In back-to-back moves this week, the Pentagon began exploring ways
to lend support at the southern border, while the House on Thursday
voted to allow the Homeland Security Department in limited cases to use
soldiers in that region.

At the Pentagon, Paul McHale, the
assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, asked officials to
offer options for the use of military resources and troops —
particularly the National Guard — along the border with Mexico,
according to defense officials familiar with the discussions.

officials, who requested anonymity because the matter has not been made
public, said there were no details yet on a defense strategy.

House vote allowed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to assign military
personnel under certain circumstances to help the Homeland Security
Department with border security. The vote was 252-171, and the
provision was added to a larger military measure.

The actions
underscored the importance of the border and immigration issues, yet
were tentative enough to reflect worries about drawing the nation’s
armed forces into a politically sensitive domestic role.

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