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TribBlog: Iraq Hand-Me-Downs to Texas?

Eighteen Democrats in the Texas House have asked President Obama to send U.S. surveillance aircraft from Iraq to Texas to help guard the state's border with Mexico.

A live surveillance camera view from a BlueServo camera

President Obama’s announcement this week that the U.S. ended its combat mission in Iraq has state lawmakers wondering if the equipment used there couldn’t be put to good use in Texas.

Eighteen Democrats from the Texas House have attached their names to a formal request that one or two MC-12 manned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft units be transferred to Texas for use on the border by the Texas Air National Guard.

“The level of violence and bloodshed on the Mexican side of the border is tragic. Texas does not have the resources needed to address this public safety and humanitarian crisis,” the request says. The surveillance platform has the capability to act as a “virtual wall and a force multiplier to assist in interdiction operations,” it goes on to explain.

The request was dated Wednesday, the same day the federal government deployed an unmanned aerial Predator drone from Corpus Christi to conduct surveillance flights along the Texas-Mexico border.

State Rep. Allen Vaught, D-Dallas, a decorated Iraq war veteran and the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Border Security, Health and School-Centered Emergencies, stressed that the request for the transfer of the MC-12s is an attempt to engage Washington in a serious conversation about secure borders rather than hurling the heated rhetoric currently applied by some office holders or seekers.

“Our first priority as a state government ought to be protecting Texas’ citizens rather than criticizing Washington for political gain. We are pleased to make a real, practical request of our Federal government that will protect our border and better train our troops for future deployments,” Vaught explained in statement circulated with the request.

The request is signed by Vaught and state Reps. Valinda Bolton, D-Austin; Ellen Cohen, D-Houston; Kirk England, D-Grand Prairie; Stephen Frost, D-Atlanta; Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen; Mark Homer, D-Paris; Donna Howard, D-Austin; Eric Johnson, D-Dallas; Carol Kent, D-Dallas; Diana Maldonado, D-Round Rock; Jim McReynolds, D-Lufkin; José Menéndez, D-San Antonio; Robert Miklos, D-Mesquite; Paula Pierson, D-Arlington; Allan Ritter, D-Nederland; Kristi Thibaut, D-Houston; and Chris Turner, D-Burleson.

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