Ben Lerner
Big Peace

Yesterday marked the 12-year anniversary of the thwarting of what could have been a devastating terrorist attack on the United States.  Twelve years ago yesterday, Algerian national Ahmed Ressam was caught attempting to smuggle a detonator and 130 pounds of explosives into the United States from Canada by ferry, with the intent to blow up Los Angeles International Airport on New Year’s Eve.  The plot was disrupted thanks to an alert U.S. customs agent who followed her instincts and ordered Ressam to open his trunk.

Terrorists remain hard at work attempting to penetrate our borders, forging operational relationships with drug cartels for this purpose.  Authorities continue to uncover networks of underground tunnels at the U.S.-Mexico border, constructed with alarming sophistication, in some instances complete with railcar systems, electric lighting, and other advanced features.

Given the established record and ongoing efforts of terrorist organizations to cross into the United States through our borders, now hardly seems like a good time to substantially diminish our detection and apprehension capabilities in this area.  And yet, The Washington Times is reporting:

“Citing budget cuts, the Obama administration early next year will cut the number of National Guard troops patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border by at least half, according to a congressman who was briefed on the plan.

The National Guard said an announcement will be made by the White House ‘in the near future,’ but Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican who has learned of the plans, said slashing the deployment in half is the minimum number, and he said it will mean reshuffling the remaining troops along the nearly 2,000-mile border.

In California, that will mean going from 264 guard troops down to just 14, he said.

Mr. Hunter said the pending cuts are another reason Congress and President Obama should revisit the automatic defense spending reductions that kicked in with the failure last month of the deficit supercommittee.

‘What’s apparent now is that a decision not to continue their deployment, even though it might be in the national interest to do so, would be based entirely on budget constraints on the Defense Department,’ Mr. Hunter said.

With severe national security budget cuts lurking just around the corner, the National Guard drawdown at the border is an important reminder.  Continued cuts to the national security budget will affect our ability to project power and deter aggression not only in the Middle East or Asia, but also much, much closer to home.