Caravan: Border Protection Agents prepare themselves with weapons designed for combat

Caravan: Border Protection Agents prepare themselves with weapons designed for combat

He is ready for war from head to toe.

The semi-automatic M4 rifle in his hands is equipped with a suppressor that Special Operations prefers to dampen shots on secret missions.

Directly above it is a PEQ-15 visor projecting an infrared beam visible through night vision goggles so the shooter can shoot at night or point out targets for comrades and helicopters. A tactical flashlight and a holographic sight complete the rifle. Magazines are at his waist to reload quickly during a firefight.

A mask covers his face, and he wears a tactical noise canceling headset that would be self-evident for tracking down an Afghan Tal for Taliban insurgents.

But photos taken on Monday by US Customs and Border Guard agents training weeks before a potential arrival of a caravan of Central Americans reveal an already militarized southern border – even before the arrival of thousands of soldiers on active service.


Customs and border guard agents attend training at the US-Mexico border in Hidalgo, Texas (John Moore / Getty Images).

There is no evidence that the mostly Honduran migrants, including many women and children, pose a threat that would require tactical engagements in the long and short term. But CBP agents have drilled with armored vehicles, combat equipment, helicopters and more, photos of the border have shown.

Preparations are for questions on how much violence soldiers and agents at the border can and should use.

President Trump had suggested that the troops should treat Steinwerfer as a fighter and that the gunfire would be an appropriate response, but he later went back to his comments.

Agents carrying military equipment may be part of CBP's Border Patrol Special Operations Group, the agency's leading tactical response team.

The CBP did not ask for an opinion on which unit was trained on the border between Texas and Mexico.


US Customs and Border Guard agents attend a training course in Hidalgo, Texas (John Moore / Getty Images)

Law enforcement agencies have demanded $ 1033 billion of military equipment since 1990 thanks to the program – a Pentagon initiative that diverts excess military equipment to civilian authorities.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq resulted in the highest level of available equipment, and in subsequent years, law enforcement had taken all measures, from excessive bayonets and uniforms to sniper rifles and vehicles designed to absorb IED strikes.

Critics claim that the weapons adopt an overly aggressive stance suitable for combat, but not for interaction with civilians. The Obama administration limited the program late in its second term, after images of officers on armored vehicles firing rifles at protesters in Ferguson, Mo., were heavily criticized.

President Trump withdrew these restrictions in August 2017.

These proposals included CBP, which received nearly $ 40 million in tactical equipment from the Department of Defense by 2014, the Marshall Project reported. It is unclear whether the Pentagon recently acquired tactical equipment for border operations or whether other equipment was purchased directly from the Department of Homeland Security.


A soldier with the 1st Special Forces Group of the 1st Battalion, with a firearm similar to some Customs and Border Patrol agents. (Army of the United States)

Photos of Getty Images also showed CBP agents who wore Operational Camouflage pattern uniforms originally designed for use in the army. Green berets and some Navy SEALs have worn the pattern that now extends to local police stations.

The agency operates unmanned drones to combat drug smuggling and helicopters such as the UH-60 Black Hawk for transporting agents. The photos of Getty Images show agents in a helicopter shoulder to shoulder as troops are tactically deployed.

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