AUSTIN — To much of the public, the iconic image of the Texas Ranger is that of a taciturn lawman in a Western hat, a pistol holstered at his side.
But the specialized team of Rangers that Gov. Rick Perry is dispatching to the Texas border comes closer to resembling a military-style commando unit in a foreign war zone.
Wearing camouflage, helmets and bulletproof vests, and armed with sidearms, shotguns and assault rifles, the "Recon Rangers" will be dispatched into the hostile border wilderness near the Rio Grande to maintain a constant vigil for "bad guys" from Mexico.
"Even though Rangers have more training than most conventional law enforcement, these guys have even more," said L.C. Wilson, 51, deputy assistant director of the 144-member Texas Rangers and program manager of the recon team.
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Perry, who announced the deployment last week, touted the plan again Tuesday at a news conference with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Giuliani, who was mayor during 9-11, endorsed Perry's call for toughened border security.
Perry critics have accused him of playing politics with the Rangers, who originated in 1823 and are now a branch of the Department of Public Safety, the state's law enforcement agency. Perry is seeking re-election and faces a rigorous Republican primary challenge from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
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