Fifty shades of dirt and grit.

Captain Matthew B. Fronek, a native of Glendale, Ariz., with Security Force Assistance Team Liberty, Texas Army National Guard, provides security outside of an Afghan Border Police checkpoint near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in Spin Boldak district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. The SFAT was conducting a checkpoint and border crossing assessment.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann, 102nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. 8 APR 2013.)

The Mexican government reiterates its strongest repudiation and condemnation of the deployment of the first soldiers of the Texas National Guard, announced today by the Office of Governor Rick Perry.

Mexico asserts that it is irresponsible to manipulate the current state of border security for political purposes. It reiterates that immigration must be addressed from a comprehensive and regional perspective, with a mid-term vision and with shared responsibility, to ensure peace, inclusion and prosperity in the region.

The measure taken unilaterally by the Texas government is clearly erroneous and does not contribute to the efforts being made by our countries to create a secure border and a solution to the issue of immigration. It does not contribute to bringing our societies closer together and it opposes the principles and values by which Mexico and the United States govern their bilateral relationship.

The first wave of National Guard troops has taken up observation posts along the Texas-Mexico border.

Several dozen soldiers deployed in the Rio Grande Valley are part of the up to 1,000 troops called up by Gov. Rick Perry last month, Texas National Guard Master Sgt. Ken Walker of the Joint Counterdrug Task Force said Thursday.

Several guardsmen were seen Thursday afternoon manning an observation tower along the busy road leading to the Hidalgo International Bridge.

This first batch of soldiers was specifically trained to man such observation towers in the area belonging to local law enforcement agencies and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Walker said. They will serve as extra eyes on the border and report suspicious activity to authorities.

State officials have estimated the deployment, which they’ve called a “deter and refer” mission will cost $12 million per month.


A U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter assigned to the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade and operated by Soldiers with Texas and Oklahoma Army National Guard units carries a sling-loaded shipping container during retrograde operations and base closures in Wardak province, Afghanistan, Oct. 26, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Peter Smedberg/Released)

Whether you agree that we need the National Guard or the additional deputy sheriffs that I have previously called for to secure the border, it is shameful that our troops would be sent to keep us safe without basic supplies like food.
—  Texas state Senator Wendy Davis in response to news that the Texas National Guard had contacted a Rio Grande Valley food bank to ask for assistance for 50 soldiers who have yet to receive a paycheck.

Grisly new details emerged in the story of the ongoing imprisonment of Justin Carter, who racked up months in jail for making sarcastic, violent threats after playing an online video game.

Sometimes, I think this unit is bullshit. I think, why should I try? No one notices anything you do. What's the point?

My (almost) company commander just called me into 1SG’s office and they informed me that they are tired of waiting for my transfer and are going to start hounding Texas about it themselves. Then they told me that I was a good soldier and not only am I more than deserving of my not yet received specialist rank, but that they see me as an E5 in about a year and a half.
That’s the point. I just have to remind myself of that.

Bywater Historic District, New Orleans, Louisiana

I saw these spray-painted markings on many houses in the Bywater district today. I asked a shop attendant what they meant. She told me that they were a formal code used by Urban Search and Rescue teams after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. The search date (6 September 2005) and rescue team (Texas National Guard) are indicated in the top and left quadrants. The right quadrant indicates hazards in the building and the bottom quadrant indicates the number of live or dead bodies found.

Many people have kept the codes on their houses as a reminder of the awful event and its aftermath. The locals call them “Katrina crosses”.