Texas to Build 80-Acre Base in Eagle Pass for National Guard Troops

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is joined by fellow governors during a news conference along the Rio Grande to discuss Operation Lone Star and border concerns
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is joined by fellow governors during a news conference along the Rio Grande to discuss Operation Lone Star and border concerns, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

This article is co-published with Military Times, an independent news organization reporting on issues important to the U.S. military. Sign up for its daily Early Bird Brief newsletter here.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday announced that the state is building an 80-acre base camp in Eagle Pass for Texas National Guard soldiers who are deployed for Operation Lone Star, the $10 billion state effort to deter people from immigrating into Texas illegally.

Abbott said the new facility will house between 1,800 to 2,300 soldiers — the base would reach the higher figure if the state deploys more troops to the border — and each will have individual rooms.

“Before this effort here, they had been living in conditions that were atypical for military operations,” Abbott said during a news conference in Eagle Pass. “Because of the magnitude of what we're doing, because of the need to sustain and actually expand our efforts of what we're doing, it's essential that we build this base camp for the soldiers.”

He said troops are scattered around the area, living in tents, hotels and private residences, and some have to drive an hour to get to Eagle Pass.

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Abbott didn’t say how much the new base would cost; his office didn’t respond to an email from The Texas Tribune.

Texas Major Gen. Thomas Suelzer said that by mid-April the base will be able to hold 300 soldiers and will add 300 more beds roughly every 30 days until the base is complete.

Since launching Operation Lone Star in March 2021, Abbott has sent state troopers and the National Guard to different parts of the state’s 1,200-mile border with Mexico. An estimated 3,000 Texas soldiers are now deployed to the border, where they have helped state troopers apprehend migrants — many of whom were charged with trespassing on private land — erect barriers on land and water; and most recently, block U.S. Border Patrol agents from entering a city park in Eagle Pass that the state enclosed with concertina wire.

According to a 2022 investigation by the Military Times and the Tribune, the deployment has faced a myriad of problems: One in five troops reported problems with their pay, including being paid late, too little or not at all for months; shortages of critical equipment, including cold weather gear, medical equipment and plates for their ballistic vests; and troops living in cramped trailers.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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