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Join Task Force North: provides engineering training opportunities on the Southern Border.

Engineer units face unique training challenges. Construction units can rarely exercise complete mission-essential tasks from survey, to design, to construction.

At the same time, the U.S. Border Patrol is challenged by a lack of mobility along the Nation's southwest border. In many cases, the patrol can only access large areas on foot or by horseback. The need for military construction unit training combined with the need for the mobility of the Border Patrol provides the opportunity for a unique benefit partnership.

Military engineering support from Joint Task Force North (JTFN) directly increases the effectiveness of Border Patrol efforts to deter and prevent drug trafficking and associated transnational threats from entering the United States by constructing all-weather roads while providing Service members with enhanced training opportunities.

JTFN, based on Fort Bliss, Texas, is the Regular Army Defense Department command tasked to support the U.S. federal law enforcement agencies conducting operations against drug smuggling and transnational criminal organization activities taking place within and along the Nation's southwest border and at entry points to the United States.

Mobility support missions are executed primarily in parts of California, Texas, and Arizona. The focus and priority of these areas are in direct relation to an operational analysis done by JTFN, the U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Infrastructure Directorate, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Facilities Management and Engineering Directorate.

JTFN mobility support missions enhance Border Patrol agent response times to conduct interdiction operations; in many cases, agent response times can be reduced by 75 percent. These missions also allow agents to better patrol the rough terrain and afford access to areas to emplace and maintain persistent sensor platforms. Permanent roads, built with drainage culverts to keep them from washing out, help agents more quickly respond to drug-trafficking activity in the area and more quickly provide aid to undocumented aliens in distress. Local residents and businesses also benefit from the improved conditions.

Military Training Opportunities

Since fiscal year 2011, JTFN mobility support missions have constructed 62 miles of all-weather road while executing 49 engineer missions and deploying 1,658 military personnel from 49 units (34 from the Army, 12 from the Marines, and three from the Navy) at 20 military installations in 14 states for a total of 95 months.

Engineer units from all three Services have executed a variety of mobility missions along the southwest border, to include road construction and improvement, border perimeter lighting installation, border fence construction, and vehicle barrier construction. JTFN mobility missions present military engineer units with unique training opportunities to exercise multiple skill level tasks in military construction. These missions are challenging and provide the unit leaders with some of the best real-world construction training opportunities within the continental United States.

Volunteer units typically train on 90 percent of their wartime mission tasks. Volunteer units and individuals have repeatedly remarked that JTFN missions have provided them with the best training they have ever received, emulating terrain similar to that seen during combat operations, as indicated in multiple after action reports.

"This project provides a phenomenal opportunity for us to train every echelon of the brigade, from individual operator all the way through battalion and brigade mission command," said one U.S. Army engineer brigade commander. "Candidly, we normally don't have an operations and maintenance budget sufficient to allow us to take on a project of this scale, so we're thankful to be able to do it on someone else's dime. At the same time, I have to believe that executing with troop construction lowers the net cost of the project for JTFN, so this truly is the elusive 'win-win' we all search for," he added.

For more information on JTFN, its engineering projects, or its trainings opportunities, contact the command at (915) 313-7777 or visit <>.

Major McGinnis serves as an engineering plans officer at Fort Bliss, overseeing the development and execution of mobility projects along the southwest border of the United States for JTFN. She holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Wayland University and a master's degree in geological engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology at Rolla.

Caption: Soldiers from the 103d Engineer Company, 94th Engineer Battalion, construct a one-mile stretch of road along the border.

Caption: Engineers from the 232d Engineer Company, 94th Engineer Battalion, construct a road in support of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Border Patrol.
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Author:McGinnis, Cassandra D.
Publication:Engineer: The Professional Bulletin for Army Engineers
Date:May 1, 2017
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