CBP re­cruit­ing vol­un­teers to train Iraqi border guards

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

U.S. Cus­toms and Border Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sioner W. Ralph Basham is look­ing for a few good men and women, seek­ing out vet­eran U.S. Border Pa­trol agents and CBP of­fi­cers will­ing to train Iraqis to guard their borders.

In a mes­sage to all Border Pa­trol agents and CBP of­fi­cers, Mr. Basham said the agency wants to “sup­port the re­con­struc­tion ef­forts in Iraq” by de­ploy­ing vol­un­teers as tem­po­rary ad­vis­ers to help the U.S.backed Iraqi gov­ern­ment seal its border against in­sur­gents.

“CBP vol­un­teers are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in this newly formed democ­racy of Iraq,” he said. “We are train­ing Iraqi law-en­force­ment of­fi­cers to pro­tect their borders and ports — and their cit­i­zens. I be­lieve it is im­por­tant we con­tinue this work that is so crit­i­cal to suc­cess in Iraq.”

The Basham mes­sage was cir­cu­lated at a time when the CBP is scram­bling to re­cruit, train and de­ploy 6,000 new Border Pa­trol agents by the end of 2008 — a 50 per­cent man­power in­crease — as part of Pres­i­dent Bush’s plan to bet­ter se­cure the na­tion’s borders.

In May 2006, Mr. Bush or­dered 6,000 Na­tional Guard troops at a cost of $1.9 bil­lion to help the Border Pa­trol se­cure the South­west border, and as new Border Pa­trol agents and con­gres­sion­ally man­dated tech­nolo­gies come on line, the Na­tional Guard forces will be re­duced.

At the same time, a Vir­gini­abased private com­pany, DynCorp In­ter­na­tional, also is re­cruit­ing vet­eran Border Pa­trol agents to fill a State De­part­ment con­tract to send 120 vet­eran law-en­force­ment per­son­nel versed in im­mi­gra­tion law and en­force­ment tech­niques to help train Iraqi border of­fi­cers.

DynCorp re­cruiters have been in Ari­zona, with its heavy con­cen­tra­tion of Border Pa­trol agents, of­fer­ing $134,114 an­nual con­tracts — more than dou­ble what a vet­eran agent makes. Re­cruits also are be­ing of­fered $25,000 sign­ing bonuses.

Last month, the Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice said the Border Pa­trol had let its on-the-job train­ing of new field agents slip as it sought to meet the pres­i­dent’s hir­ing goal. It said there were se­ri­ous ques­tions whether hir­ing “such an un­prece­dented num­ber of new agents” would strain the agency’s abil­ity to pro­vide ad­e­quate su­per­vi­sion and train­ing.

To reach Mr. Bush’s goal of 6,000 new agents, the re­port said the Border Pa­trol would need to re­cruit, hire and train 9,100 to ac­count for the ad­di­tional man­power and at­tri­tion.

The Basham mes­sage calls on agents and of­fi­cers for 180-day as­sign­ments to pro­vide ad­vice, guid­ance and train­ing to Iraqi De­part­ment of Border En­force­ment (DBE) of­fi­cers, cov­er­ing all as­pects of border en­force­ment and op­er­a­tions. They will men­tor DBE of­fi­cers on safety, weapons train­ing, statu­tory au­thor­i­ties, ad­mis­si­bil­ity re­quire­ments, ob­ser­va­tional tech­niques, travel doc­u­men­ta­tion and man­i­fest re­view.

They also will of­fer ad­vice in in­ter­view­ing tech­niques, per­sonal searches, con­veyance ex­am­i­na­tions, ar­rest and seizure pro­ce­dures, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of weapons, ex­plo­sives, nar­cotics, and fraud­u­lent doc­u­ments, pa­trol and sign cut­ting and track­ing tech­niques.

“I en­cour­age qual­i­fied can­di­dates to ap­ply for this (tem­po­rary) as­sign­ment, but I cau­tion that volun- teer­ing should not be taken lightly,” Mr. Basham said. “The as­sign­ments will take place in Iraq, mostly out­side of the rel­a­tive safety of the ‘Green Zone.’

“The con­di­tions are dan­ger­ous, as well as phys­i­cally and psy­cho­log­i­cally de­mand­ing,” he said.

The tem­po­rary de­ploy­ments will be­gin in July. While in Iraq, those se­lected will earn 35 per­cent “dan­ger pay” and 35 per­cent “post hard­ship” dif­fer­en­tials, and “you will be ex­pected to work con­sid­er­able over­time hours, for which you will be com­pen­sated.”

CBP of­fi­cers and Border Pa­trol agents ini­tially were dis­patched to Iraq in 2004 by CBP Com­mis­sioner Robert C. Bon­ner to help se­cure that coun­try’s borders against sabo­teurs, ter­ror­ists and ar­ma­ments. More than 1,000 CBP of­fi­cers and Border Pa­trol agents have since been sta­tioned around the world work­ing to de­feat ter­ror­ism.

Mr. Bon­ner said the agents were on “a vi­tal mis­sion to train Iraqis to pro­tect their own borders and build Iraqi in­sti­tu­tions that will safe­guard the new free­doms and demo­cratic prin­ci­ples be­ing es­tab­lished there.”

U.S. Cus­toms and Border Pro­tec­tion

W. Ralph Basham, head of U.S. Cus­toms and Border Pro­tec­tion, is ask­ing agents to vol­un­teer to serve in Iraq.

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