As Greg Abbott continues to tout his record on securing the border, his signature project to achieve that goal, Operation Lone Star, is facing stark questions over the treatment of Texas troops. Abbott launched Operation Lone Star last March, as a response to the “border crisis.” It was meant to be a joint effort between the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas National Guard.
A series of articles in the Army Times has detailed some truly horrifying accounts of what is actually happening with Operation Lone Star. Members of the Texas National Guard have allegedly endured pay discrepancies as well as a decrease in a state tuition allocation.
According to a December article in the Army Times, there have also been several suicides by guard members. Those tragedies have coincided with additional reports of faulty equipment for troops, inadequate and unsanitary housing, and substance abuse episodes.
When Abbott was questioned about the reporting over suicides among the Texas National Guard, he bristled and said detractors were “playing politics.”
“If they are saying something about what’s happening to the National Guard in Texas, why are they not at the very same time saying something about President Biden and having lost hundreds of members of the U.S. military … to suicide?” said Abbott.
Beto O’Rourke has also brought Operation Lone Star to the forefront of his campaign against Abbott. On Sunday he was in Zapata meeting with members of the Texas National Guard. O’Rourke recounted disturbing instances of the Guard members alleging scarce protections against COVID-19 and barriers to getting paid on time.
Rep. Veronica Escobar and her colleagues in the Texas Democratic congressional delegation have also been forcefully questioning Operation Lone Star. Escobar and her Texas colleagues wrote a letter to the inspector general of the Texas Military Department over the “deplorable conditions” troops are allegedly facing in Operation Lone Star. Last week in Congress she also asked leaders at the National Guard about the conditions in Texas.
State Rep. Dominguez is also seeking answers over what is happening with Operation Lone Star. He penned an op-ed for the Military Times as well as the links to formal letters asking for inquiries into Operation Lone Star. “It should go without saying that the commander in chief of the Texas National Guard, our governor, should step beyond simple platitudes and instead vow to do everything in his power to prevent these deaths,” wrote Dominguez. “And maybe that is his intention, but so far he has refused to take action or responsibility.”
Abbott has long championed border security as one of the biggest reasons he should be re-elected. Some critics have accused him of using Operation Lone Star as a cudgel against accusations from his primary opponents like Allen West and Don Huffines over not being tough enough when it comes to the border.
The future of Operation Lone Star is currently unclear as a judge in Travis County ruled the program unconstitutional.
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