NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - President Donald Trump's desire to send 2,000 to 4,000 national guard members to the U.S.-Mexico border caught the attention of all branches of Texas military departments.
East Texas News visited with a member of the Texas State Guard to clarify what the order means to different branches of the military.
When needing a refresher course on state military forces, it's best to go to one who serves.
"I'm Scott Runnels. I'm a lieutenant junior grade in the Texas Maritime Regiment of the Texas State Guard," said Scott Runnels, a member of the Texas State Guard, which is under the Texas Military Department.
"So, the assets of the Texas Military Department are the Army National Guard, the Air National Guard, Domestic Operations and the Texas State Guard," Runnels said.
Runnels knows when the national guard is called to duty, the Texas State Guard could be called to assist.
"It's not automatic, but it's not unusual," Runnels said.
Runnels is a member of the Texas Maritime Regiment. His aquatic training was lifesaving for hundreds during Hurricane Harvey.
"Here's our divers," Runnels said.
the regiment's mission scope includes rivers which define Texas' borders. Runnels' other specialization is groundwork.
"This is actually on the border down there," Runnels said.
runnels reminded Texans the Texas State Guard and Army National Guard have been on the Texas border for years.
"We have people rotating in and out of the border all the time. Basically, we're acting as eyes, ears, and dispatch," Runnels said.
No arrests or force is allowed.
"That will be the job of the border patrol and the DPS," Runnels said.
The biggest role is an increased presence.
"It can be very impressive, you know," Runnels said. "You've got your military vehicles out there. You've got your military people there in force. It's more a visual deterrent in those cases."
Trump says he plans to keep the guard members there until a "large portion of the wall is built."
'You could say we're a political tool in the political toolbox, but that's not really our question as long as we have lawful order, then we're going to follow them," Runnels said.
The Stephen F. Austin State University art professor has his painting depicting what could be the iconic Texas border hanging over his mantle. It may be as close as Runnels gets to the border, but he's got his bags packed if and when the call may come.
Runnels was unable to serve the last time the Texas State Guard was called to the southern border in 2014 because he was attending Officer Candidate School.