Border Militia

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State legislators debate a bill that would create a volunteer armed force to patrol the Arizona-Mexico border.

Ted Simons: A bill improved by the State Senate would create an armed volunteer militia that could be used by the state to help patrol the border. Here to talk about Senate Bill 1083 is Colonel Luke Taylor, US Army retired. He was the co-leader of the senate working group that created the language for the bill and also here is Senator Steve Gallardo, who is against the bill. Good to see you both here thanks for joining us. Why is this a good idea?

Col. Luke Taylor: Because the need is so bare in state of Arizona, we have got to have a unit that is not politicized, that is correctly trained, properly vetted, that can operate anywhere within the state, not within the boundaries of the county sheriff's departments, and that's why we need that.

Ted Simons: Don't we have that in a National Guard?

Col. Luke Taylor: Yes, but the National Guard would break the bank. In what they would need to do. We are a low-cost high payoff force that is going to be of volunteers who are going to give their time. We only have $1.4 million in the kitty at the time but we're going get additional moneys.

Ted Simons: I'm going to get to that one point here in a second but why is this a bad idea for Arizona?

Steve Gallardo: Well, at the end of the day, they can call it a special missions unit, but at the end of the day it's a state-sanctioned militia. We are bringing in volunteers to bring in their own weaponry, by the way, they bring in their own guns. We don't pay for it. They go down to the border to try to enforce federal law. If the issue is trying to scare the border, let's go ahead and give the resources to local sheriffs and law enforcement to properly do their jobs. Let's allow -- keep in mind, the Governor still has the authority to call out the National Guard if needed. The fact is this. The fact is that we have more border patrol along our southern Arizona border than ever before. We have federal law enforcement down there. We do not need a state-sanctioned militia. The idea of having volunteers down there with their weaponry trying to enforce state and federal law, it's scary.

Ted Simons: The idea is that we don't need this.

Col. Luke Taylor: Let's put the facts on the table. We don't carry our individual weapons. Those will be paid for by the State and the ammunition that we're going to have. That is totally untrue. That's part of the push-back that you've got. And by the way, Senator, I was sitting in Las Vegas on the board of directors about three weeks ago when you called me a vigilante. Do I look like a vigilante?

Steve Gallardo: That's exactly what we have here, a state sanctioned vigilante group. $1.4 million? What are we going to get out of $1.4 million? If the issue is border security, allow the Governor to call out the National Guard. But the idea of having this volunteer group -- and you have to ask, who's going to volunteer their time and bring their weaponry down to southern Arizona?

Ted Simons: Who will be part of this force? Who are those folks, how will they be vetted and trained?

Col. Luke Taylor: First, we're going get former military and law enforcement personnel for our SMU company. I use that acronym, special mission unit company. If I only can get 25 properly trained people versus 100 that are not properly trained, then I'm satisfied. We can operate. If you go down to the farmers in Eloi and those in Stanfield, that wear the bulletproof vests and carry weapons on their tractors tending their fields, you would understand, Senator, what I'm talking about. People in this state are demanding that we have a force totally independent from the National Guard. When the National Guard goes, it's under Title X. The federal -- and they are paying for it. If they were to go under title 32, it would break the bank of Arizona. We can't do it.

Steve Gallardo: You even have the adjutant-general of our state National Guard saying, wait a minute, time out here. We have some problems here. When you have the adjutant general coming to the legislative committee and saying we have problems, we have some problems. What's going happen when the first U.S. citizen is accidentally killed by one of these missions? This is scary stuff, folks. We do not need a state-sanctioned militia. If the issue is security let's properly fund law enforcement that are there trying to deal with this issue.
Ted Simons: Why not use the existing law enforcement for this, properly trained? Obviously the background on all this doesn't seem like you need all that many, why not give it a shot and see how it works.

Steve Gallardo: If that's the issue of using law enforcement, let's utilize law enforcement. The idea that we're going to have law enforcement and former military folks and special operations people joining this type of militia, that -- that could be further from the truth. You're going to have folks down there that are members of minuteman organizations, backgrounds that really would put chills down our spines. We're going to have folks like Glenn Spencer, Shawna --

Col. Luke Taylor: No, we're not. Our people are going to be vetted. Let me talk about the vetting process. U.S. citizens are legal residents. Passports, birth certificate, finger printing. If I want, D.D.214, Department of Defense form, and from the National Guard Personal who join us retired it would be an NGB22. Then we will have psychological screening. I come from the black side of special operational forces. We are going to have a trained and vetted personnel who can do the job. In that training we're going to have the selection and assessment course. Many people won't make it, Ted, because they cannot stand the fiscal and mental -- physical and mental stress it takes to be a soldier who have staying power to counteract this cross-border criminal activity.

Ted Simons: We have 50%, some odd, apprehensions down since 2008. We've got a border presence that so far is relatively strong by most accounts. A lot of people don't think it's strong enough. I kind of circle back to the original question. Is the 25, 300, whatever the number winds up being, is that going to make, A, much of a difference? Is this needed?

Col. Luke Taylor: Yes, it is. As a student of Carl Von Clausewitz at the army war college, we're going to look at the centers of gravity. The centers of gravity, I mean you go where you can have the most impact. Intelligence and training are going to be the keys to our success, and we're going to engineer this unit for success totally.

Steve Gallardo: Ted, if you have an assault rifle, you can join this group. The fact is, when you have the adjutant-general standing up saying, wait a minute, we have problems with this legislation, we should listen to the adjutant-general. Let's give the $1.9 million to border law enforcement. Let's give them the resources and tools they need to do their job. If we need to call out the National Guard, the Governor has the ability to call out the national guard.

Ted Simons: If enough folks by way of Representatives, if enough folks look at the situation and say, something's got to be done, they are worried about international terrorist groups. We've heard Mitt Romney suggest Hezbollah is somewhere south of the border, that is out there, folks are scared. What do they do?

Steve Gallardo: I will be the first one to tell you we have problems along the southern Arizona border, we do. But to create a state sanctioned militia, to allow volunteers to go down there with weaponry and assault rifles to try to protect us? That's the wrong solution. Let's give the resources to local law enforcement. Again, let's have the National Guard down there. But to have citizens down there with the weaponry? Wrong idea.

Col. Luke Taylor: You know General Salazar, he's a political animal. Bottom line, he is a political animal. He operates under the tentative title X and title 32 for the state. It would bankrupt the state for him to have people on the border. Those on the border are paid by the federal government, not the state government.

Ted Simons: I want to go back to the cost here. $1.4 million is the original start-up. I think $1.9 to activate then $1.4 a year they're after. That does not sound like a lot of money. When you're talking everything from training to uniforms and weapons, the whole nine yards. $1.4 million, that is enough?

Col. Luke Taylor: No, it's not but that's all we're going get. And we're going to use what we can get and start out small and grow up to a force design number which is good for the State.

Steve Gallardo: Keep in mind, last year we passed bill that gave the Governor the authority to create this. What we're doing is forcing the hand of the governor. We do not need this type of legislation. We already have the governor having the ability to create a state guard if she wants to. She has the ability to call out the National Guard. We do not need this legislation. This is scary stuff.

Col. Luke Taylor: Let me tell you, S.B. 1495 he probably didn't support because he supports nothing the good citizens of Arizona need. So it was about a quarter of a page and 26-174 was about a third of a page. Those two documents, we took 22 public laws from every state and put it together and we put it together, our Senate working group, a group I am so proud of, and we submitted that as our first draft.

Ted Simons: I believe Senator Smith had a question. His question was, how long can we sit around and do nothing? How would you respond to that?

Steve Gallardo: And he's right. We have problems along southern Arizona. Creating a state-sanctioned militia is not the solution. Think of the liability the state of Arizona has. Should one of these volunteer folks accidentally kill a citizen down there, what happens? That's the big problem.

Col. Luke Taylor: Who's liable for Robert Critz and Bryan Terry? And who's liable for all of the drugs coming in, the parents giving it to their children? We are going to operate in many areas. The Vekol Valley is one example. On those mountains they have the OP's and LP's, operational posts and listening posts, to direct their drug cartels.

Ted Simons: We've got about 30 seconds left. Last question. Why is it necessary to arm these folks and allow them to arrest, detain, seize property, when they could also work in conjunction with the National Guard, in conjunction with the border, without having those -- that particular authority?

Col. Luke Taylor: We just need a statewide agency that can operate anywhere within the state. We're going to have memorandums of understanding, with your local sheriffs, and any municipality chief, in order to do what we gotta do.

Ted Simons: We've got to stop it right there. Good discussion, good to have you both here. Thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it. Wednesday we will look at bills discussed today along with other legislation being heard at the capitol. That is Wednesday on "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons, thank you for joining us, you have a great evening.

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