McALLEN, Texas — After thousands of migrants crossed into Del Rio, Texas, last year and overwhelmed the authorities, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered thousands of National Guard troops to the border, sharply expanding their role in a mission known as Operation Lone Star.
For most of those called up, the service was mandatory, came on short notice and went from a tour of a few months to a yearlong deployment for a mission that Mr. Abbott has said is necessary to deter illegal migration, human smuggling and drug trafficking.
But many ordered to the border have complained of poor planning, pay problems and a lack of basic equipment, like winter gear for the cold or stethoscopes for medics. There have been Covid outbreaks on hastily created bases, where dozens of soldiers crowd together in mobile quarters so tight that commanders call them “submarine trailers.”
Hundreds sought waivers, because of the mission’s uncertain length and the disruptions it would create for their families, and were denied. In some cases, arrest warrants were issued for those who failed to report for duty.
more than a dozen Democratic members of Congress from Texas to call for an investigation of the border mission by the Guard’s inspector general, and have drawn criticism from Mr. Abbott’s Republican primary challengers, including Allen West, a former Army officer and former chairman of the Texas Republican Party, and Beto O’Rourke, the most prominent Democratic candidate for governor.
highlighted the National Guard deployment.
“Texas had no choice but to step up and address this crisis in the wake of President Biden’s and congressional Democrats’ inaction,” Nan Tolson, a spokeswoman for the governor, said in response to questions about the troubled border mission. “Texas will do whatever it takes to secure our southern border and protect Texans in President Biden’s absence.”