Operation Faithful Patriot: These USAF Units Will Deploy to the US-Mexico Border

Two airmen from Dover AFB., Del., secure cargo inside a a C-17 at Fort Knox, K.Y., in support of Operation Faithful Patriot on October 30. Air Force photo by A1C Zoe M. Wockenfuss.

Active Duty airmen from Scott AFB, Ill., and Peterson AFB, Colo., will deploy to the US-Mexico border in support of Operation Faithful Patriot, and two USAF installations will serve as operational supply hubs, the Defense Department said Wednesday.

Though most of the units being called up are Army, the following Air Force units will head South to support the operation:

  • The Joint Public Support Element-Public Affairs at Scott
  • A Joint Enabling Capability Team from Peterson
  • A Peterson-based aviation planner with US Northern Command
  • A C-17 from Dover AFB, Del., and a C-130J from Little Rock AFB, Ark.

In addition, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., and JB San Antonio, Texas, were selected as “Base Support Installations” for the operation. Both bases are “located near the operation area and [will] serve as primary logistics hubs, during a response to a request for Defense Support to Civil Authorities,” according to the release, which also notes that additional bases may be called on to serve as hubs.

Under Operation Faithful Patriot, which was announced in a joint DOD-US Customs and Border Protection press conference Monday, DOD is providing Active Duty troops and military capability in support of CBP efforts to secure the boundary and stop reported caravans of people from Central America from illegally entering the US.

US Northern Command chief Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy initially cited 5,200 troops as a base number, but that figure jumped by nearly 2,000 personnel in two days.

“The number of troops deployed will change each day as military forces flow into the operating area, but the initial estimate is that the DOD will have more than 7,000 troops supporting DHS across California, Arizona, and Texas,” the press release said.

Defense Secretary Mattis has authorized Active Duty troops to help with things like coordinating command and control and logistics, building “temporary vehicle barriers and fencing,” and providing helicopter transport for “CBP tactical personnel.” They’ve also gotten the all-clear to provide temporary living quarters for DOD and CBP personnel, plus “light towers, barrier material,” barbed wire, and meals ready to eat.

Operational Faithful Patriot is running concurrently with Operation Guardian Support, under which Army and Air National Guard forces are also supporting CBP’s border-security mission. As of Oct. 24, 150 Air National Guardsmen were taking part in that operation.