By Rene Sotolongo:
Have you ever heard of “Operation Phalanx?” Most people haven’t. It’s a shame, because Operation Phalanx is one of the most successful and effective programs combating illegal immigration. So, of course, the Obama Administration shut it down.
This defies comprehension, because Barack Obama created the program.
President Obama established Operation Phalanx via executive order in July 2010. The purpose of the order was the authorization for the Army National Guard to provide up to 1,200 soldiers and airmen along the 1,933-mile southwest border. Their purpose was to support the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection Division.
The program uses advanced UH-72 helicopters. Phalanx flight crews generally consist of three National Guardsmen and one Border Patrol agent. The National Guard crew consists of two pilots and a sensor operator. The sensor operator’s job is to operate the advanced night vision surveillance equipment on board the UH-72.
In February 2016, the Obama administration inexplicably cut funding to Operation Phalanx by 50 percent even though the project had been fully funded by Congress and was by all accounts, demonstrably successful.
And now the program was shut down by the Department of Homeland Security, despite protests from elected officials who represent the states serviced by the program, and even against protests from the Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner – Gil Kerlikowske. In fact, Kerlikowske maintains that Operation Phalanx “provided tangible benefits to border security.”
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas,) co-signed a letter of protest to Homeland Security along with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. John Cornyn, (R-Texas) who are all trying to jumpstart the program for 2017. Why are these congressional representatives trying to restart the program? The stats speak for themselves.
In total, according to a report by the Daily Signal, surveillance flights under Operation Phalanx resulted in the detention of over 110,000 illegal immigrants trying to cross into the United State from Mexico, and seized over 300,000 pounds of marijuana.
According to the report, here is how the numbers broke down:
Since March, Operation Phalanx logged over 2,800 hours of flight time in Texas, specifically in the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo areas. There were another 1,000 additional flight hours reported for the Tucson, Arizona area as well.
In the smaller Laredo sector, Operation Phalanx accounted for 10,559 apprehensions and 4,007 “turnbacks” from March 2012 to December 2015 alone. Further, Phalanx was credited with seizing 12,851 pounds of narcotics during the period as well.
So, of course it only makes sense to shut it down. The justification? The Department of Homeland Security stated that illegal crossings have “declined” along the Texas-Mexico border, hinting that the program was not needed due to a decrease in illegal immigration.
However, if this were the case, then why do reports show that illegal apprehensions in the Rio Grande area actually rose over 27 percent year after year from 2015 to 2016?
That begs another question: what’s really going on here?
The first thing you must realize is that the National Guard has a standing imperative under the National Interdiction Command and Control Plan of 1994 to provide continued and ongoing counter drug enforcement operations. So regardless of the outcome of Operation Phalanx, the National Guard should have a continued and ongoing presence at the border. But that is not happening.
It is my belief that Operation Phalanx was created and authorized by Obama simply to mollify Congress. But when that program proved to be entirely too successful, it had to be shut down.
Now, look at the “big” picture– the only conclusion one can make is that there is a concerted effort by this Administration to allow as many terrorists into our country as possible before the changeover to Trump’s Administration. It’s the only thing that makes sense.
First, consider the number of armed incursions along our border by the Mexican Army. I recently reported on the startling statistics about these armed incursions. To recap, there have been 118 documented by the Mexican military over the last five years.
Next, consider that over 80 percent of the drug trade comes through our Southern border.
Now, consider intelligence reports that show a clear and credible danger of terrorists using existing Mexican Drug Cartel pipelines to enter the United States.
Couple that with the Obama Administration’s commitment to allow over 10,000 Syrian refugees to enter this country.
Then consider that it only took 19 terrorists to destroy the Twin Towers and kill close to 3,000 Americans.
Finally, realize that, according to Judicial Watch, “A prominent Muslim advisor at the Obama Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has close ties to a convicted Hamas fundraiser and other radical Islamist causes, including a nonprofit that proclaims sharia is the only legitimate law according to Islam.”
“Incredibly, this Homeland Security advisor, Mohamed Elibiary, has regular access to classified information and is a prime mover behind two of the Obama administration’s most dangerous policies; normalizing relations with domestic and foreign Islamist groups (including the Muslim Brotherhood) and arduous enforcement restrictions of laws related to material support for terrorism.”
So we know for a fact that the order to shut down Operation Phalanx came from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS,) and we know that both Arif Alikhan and Mohammed Elibiary both have high ranking positions at the DHS – and both are devout Muslims with proven ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Who issued the order to shut down Operation Phalanx, and when was that order issued?
Whether it’s outright support for terrorist activities or a continued subversion of the enforcement of our laws, the Obama Administration has clearly shown its colors by issuing the order to stand down Operation Phalanx. We can only hope the new administration will revive a program that is both a force multiplier and an enforcement operation that has already been proven effective.
Rene C. Sotolongo is an OpsLens Contributor and a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer who served for over twenty years as an Information Systems official. Sotolongo also specialized in homeland security and counterterrorism.