Congressman Henry Cuellar has sent a letter to Department of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in support of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s request for the procurement of excess equipment from the Department of Defense. The letter was signed by fourteen of Cuellar’s colleagues in the Texas congressional delegation.
“With the drawdown in Iraq complete and most of the Operation New Dawn equipment in Afghanistan retrograded to the United States, it is inevitable that a large amount of excess equipment will continue to amass,” the letter stated. “The purpose of our letter is to underscore the continuing need in Texas for more of this equipment, as the TX DPS exerts considerable efforts in providing for the safety and security of the communities that are located along approximately 64 percent of the entire international land border between the U.S. and Mexico.”
More than 1.5 million pieces of equipment have already been shipped out of Iraq over the last year and nearly 900,000 remain. Much of this equipment would be useful to the federal, state and local law enforcement in their efforts to secure the border with Mexico.
“We know there is surplus equipment, and we know there is a law enforcement need. I will continue working to connect the dots between the two to ensure that we are sending this equipment where it is most useful in keeping our border secure,” said Cuellar. “I am grateful to be joined by fourteen of my colleagues in the Texas congressional delegation in this goal of reinforcing collaboration with Secretary Panetta to make sure that local law enforcement agencies take full advantage of this opportunity to get their hands on the tools they need in a fiscally responsible way.”
This letter follows a letter that Cuellar and Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02), joined by 17 border sheriffs from TX, AZ, and NM, sent to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta earlier this year requesting that he send surplus equipment returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to the Southern border with Mexico.
“TX DPS Director Steven McCraw has demonstrated admirable leadership and vision in keeping Texans safe and seeking to better DPS’s capabilities,” said Cuellar. “I look forward to helping him continue the conversation with DoD as he works to get the equipment TX DPS needs to keep our border strong and our communities secure.”
Cuellar, the Ranking Member of the Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, is leading the charge to have surplus DoD equipment sent to the Texas-Mexico border where it can be leveraged to support local law enforcement needs. In February, Cuellar hosted Defense Department Assistant Secretary Paul N. Stockton and South Texas first responders at Laredo Community College to discuss the DoD Domestic Preparedness Support Initiative, which coordinates the Department’s efforts to transfer technology, items and equipment to federal, state and local first responders.
The letter was also signed by Congressman Joe Barton (TX-06), Francisco “Quico” Canseco (TX-23), Congressman Blake Farenthold (TX-27), Congressman Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Congressman Al Green (TX-09), Congressman Gene Green (TX-29), Congressman Ralph Hall (TX-04), Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Michael McCaul (TX-10), Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) Congressman Pete Olson (TX-22), Congressman Pete Sessions (TX-32) and Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21).