McALLEN, TX (KTRK) --He's a militia leader with the title of commander, gathering intelligence and training volunteers from his headquarters south of San Antonio.
But Chris Davis, who oversees Operation Secure Our Border is losing the battle.
Not a border battle.
A public relations one.
Well-publicized photos of him and his men wearing masks and holding guns have scared many.
And he's been hit by rounds of bad press, not only from liberal publications such as Talking Points Memo and Raw Story, but from papers like the San Antonio Express-News and the McAllen Monitor, too. The papers reported on Davis' less than honorable Army discharge in 2001 on a YouTube video where he purportedly talked about his way of securing the border.
"You see an illegal," Davis said in the now-removed video, according to reports. "You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, 'Get back across the border or you will be shot.'"
He acknowledges the masks and the guns may be off-putting to some, but he told ABC-13 that there is a rational explanation.
"A lot of people ask about the masks," Davis said. "They're needed to keep our identities sealed."
His crews along the border may be in danger of being identified by drug cartel soldiers who are threatened by the militia's efforts, according to Davis.
"They could go after a family member, something they are notorious for," he said. "They don't care who they hurt. They are funded out the wazoo with drug money."
As for the guns, he again points to the cartel threat.
"They are for defensive measures only," Davis said.
Would he ever shoot someone for crossing the border illegally?
"Absolutely not," he said.
He also said he trains his team, stationed in parts of what he calls the "hot zone" along the Texas-Mexico border from Del Rio to Brownsville, to alert the Border Patrol if they do find someone crossing into Texas from Mexico.
Davis refused, though to disclose how many members of Operation Secure our Border are currently on patrol citing "security reasons." He said his crews are "doing a lot of recon, getting a lot of intelligence gathered."
He claims he's getting volunteers from all over the country, from places such as Colorado and Indiana. He also said he needed more volunteers, to secure the border. His plan, he said is to have so many volunteers across the Texas border so potential crossers will want to try to get into the US via another state.
"We can serve as a big deterrent," Davis said.
Davis also said he's fighting back in the public relations arena and will ultimately will win that battle by pushing his views on social media.
A Facebook page called Americans for Constitutional Recovery is a support page for Davis' efforts and other groups. It has 1,769 followers and a recent post called for volunteers and supplies for Operation Secure Our Border.
"M.R.E.s are the best option for field ops. Dry/canned goods are welcome as well as cases of water," the post reads in part. "Camping: Any camping gear is welcome... include toiletries, baby wipes, and items along this line."
The group has a hotline people can call and Davis has launched his own live video show. On his show Thursday evening he discussed his militia efforts and talked about the Constitution.
He hopes those efforts will encourage Americans "to feel the fire of liberty like our founding fathers did in 1776."
"We're out here fighting for freedom, liberty and national sovereignty," Davis said. "We have the constitution, God and the Bill of Rights on our side."
Producer: Trent Seibert