Operation Desert Dragon
Operation Desert Dragon was an operation conducted by US Customs and Border Protection in and around the US-Mexico border in cooperation with US Northern Command's (NORTHCOM) Joint Task Force North as part of Defense Support to Civil Authorities.
On 18 January 2013, Air Combat Command issued a solicitation for a contract to provide billeting tent set-up, billeting support, Life Support Area management, clean water delivery, grey water removal and disposal, fuel delivery, portable toilets, dumpsters, ice, and mobilization and demobilization or required assets to accomplish the above tasks at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. Additional options to the Government were a dining shelter, shower, hygiene sink facility, and laundry services provided by the contractor. This life support area was intended to support the deployment of 3rd Squadron, 38th Cavalry in support of Operation Desert Dragon. 3-38th Cavalry was an element of the 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade based Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The contractor would be required to maintain the life support area from 23 February through 15 April 2013. On 13 February 2013, a cancellation notice was issued, stating that the requirements called for in the contract had been cancelled. It was unclear whether this meant that existing facilities at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base had been deemed suitable, that the unit would be deploying to a different operating location, or that 3-38th Cavalry would not deploy at all.
Though not directly in support of Operation Desert Dragon, the US Border Patrol's Tucson Sector also received assistance in early 2013 as part of the US Customs and Border Protection's Southwest Border Infrastructure Enhancement Program. A detachment from Engineer Company, Marine Wing Support Squadron 272, based at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina deployed on 28 February 2013 to Nogales, Arizona to construct a new border security road and improve several existing roads. The engineer support mission was coordinated by Joint Task Force North. Unlike most Southwest desert border sites, which were normally flat and sandy, the border engineer support site near Nogales was extremely mountainous and consists mostly of hard rock terrain.
As of February 2013, JTF North had no assigned forces and subsequently solicited volunteer units to execute the support missions. MWSS-272 volunteered to perform the phase of the FY13 engineer support mission and in return would gain real-world training opportunities that were directly related to their military engineer tasks. The Marines were tasked to install 3 drainage culverts, distribute 3,000 tons of aggregate that would serve as the foundation for the newly improved border security road, widen several unimproved border roads, and execute numerous other engineer support functions. The Marines also created a helicopter landing zone to accelerate medical evacuations from the steep and rocky terrain. Prior to the start of the road construction project in FY12, Border Patrol agents took up to 40 minutes to respond to the border areas on all-terrain vehicles or on foot. Even though the roads had not been entirely completed by 11 April 2013, CBP agents could respond on the upgraded roads using their 4-wheel-drive vehicles within 10 minutes. The Marines were expected to complete their phase of the project in mid-April 2013. Another volunteer engineer military unit would continue the mission in FY14 and would expand on what the Marines have accomplished.
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