The Border Patrol will release a revamped strategy by the end of the year that will reflect new realities on the ground as well as the influx of technologies it has received during the past decade.
Mike Fisher, chief of the Border Patrol, said the agency is doing away with the “personnel, technology and infrastructure” slogan introduced in 2004. It will be changed to “information, integration and rapid response.”
“That’s not to say that the Border Patrol won’t need people, infrastructure and technology. What I am saying is that we are transitioning from a resource-based strategy to a risk-based strategy,” he said at the National Defense Industrial Association homeland security conference.
Integration refers to more cooperation not only with agencies within the Department of Homeland Security such as the Customs and Border Protection, but those outside the department.
Rapid response is not only to the ability to swoop in and make apprehensions quickly, but also the need to react to new smuggling tactics being used along the border.
Drug cartels have employed a series of new methods to move contraband across the border over the past few years including tunnels, ultralight aircraft and semi-submersible boats in the Caribbean and Pacific.
“The threat we face is very dynamic and it shifts,” he said.
Part of the strategy will include taking stock of all the new technologies that have been introduced during the past decade. They include mobile and fixed sensor towers, unattended ground sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles, which are operated by CBP.
“We were infused with so many different types of technology our field commanders are now in a deficit to figure out — like I am — what is the best way to apply all of those,” Fisher said.
The chief still has items on the technology wish list. One would be fixed sensors that can peer deep into Mexican territory to spot potential targets before they reach the U.S. side. The challenge will be to make them work in sectors such as San Diego, Tucson, Ariz., El Paso, Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, where there are large populations on both sides of the border. He would also like small, tactical unmanned aerial vehicles for remote, sparsely populated areas.
Fisher would also like to do away with the ill-defined term “operational control of the border.” The agency wants to take the phrase out of its lexicon, he said.
Lawmakers, however, may feel otherwise. The week after Fisher spoke, Rep. Peter T. King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, introduced reauthorizing legislation for DHS that requires a strategy “for gaining operational control of the border.” Those standing in the way of immigration reform have said that nation needs to have operational control of the border before new laws could be put in place.