Tester: Military-grade radar to be deployed for northern border security in November

Senator’s request for radar use to strengthen border security was approved in March

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester’s request to use military-grade radar to strengthen northern border security will be in place as soon as November, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection told the Senate today.

Tester said today’s announcement by Commissioner Alan Bersin will mean better monitoring of the border and faster response times by Customs and Border Patrol units.

In March, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano approved Tester’s request for federal law enforcement agents to use military-grade radar in the fight against illegal drug smuggling over the U.S.-Canadian border.

Tester earlier in the year led a bipartisan effort in the Senate, pushing the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense to expand a pilot project which found that the use of small, low-flying airplanes in cross-border drug smuggling is more widespread than previously thought.

Use of the radar to monitor the northern border is now scheduled to begin as soon as November, Bersin told a Senate panel today.  Under an agreement with the Canadian government, 22 Canadian radar feeds will be transmitted directly to the U.S. Air and Marine Operation Center.

Tester said use of military-grade radar will improve safety in Montana’s border communities and across the state, specifically by allowing federal Homeland Security air operations to better identify and intercept aircraft illegally crossing the border.

“Our law enforcement officers and border agents will have an effective new tool to keep a better eye on the border, and to get in front of illegal crossings,” said Tester, a member of the Homeland Security Committee.  “This is a smart, cost-effective and common sense way to keep making our communities safer—both from illegal drug threats, and terrorist threats.”

In the past year, Tester has twice hosted Commissioner Bersin to Montana to discuss northern border issues.