By Jon Dougherty
Frustrated by judicial activists on federal courts and obstructionist Democrats in Congress, POTUS Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to deploy thousands more U.S. troops to the southwest border over the next few months to augment existing federal immigration authorities dealing with the crisis there.
Newsweek reported exclusively that, according to documents, the president has ordered between 9,000-10,000 additional forces to the border:
Officials in U.S. Army North, the unit overseeing the border mission, drafted the deployment orders in anticipation of a new request from Homeland Security to aid U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the ongoing joint agency border mission.
The document further demonstrated President Trump’s increasing urgency to address a crisis at the southern border, with the orders being drafted days after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned on April 7.
Four Defense Department sources told Newsweek the document appears to show between 9,000 to 10,000 more U.S. forces heading to the southwest border over the next few months; however, the Pentagon said Tuesday the document is misleading as not every individual service member in a unit selected to deploy will go.
A Pentagon official told the magazine earlier this week that U.S. military planners are expected to send a “brigade minus” to the border, which will amount to about 3,000 troops. They would join units that are already deployed to the border, but thus far the Pentagon has yet to receive a request from the Department of Homeland Security in order to identify the final number of troops to sen.
A Pentagon spokesperson told Newsweek by phone Tuesday morning that U.S. military planners are anticipating sending a “brigade minus” or about 3,000 additional U.S. forces to join units already at the border, but they had not received a new request for assistance from Homeland Security to identify how many additional troops would be needed.
Three Pentagon sources told Newsweek the document is not just a draft copy because if it were, “Draft” would be displayed near the classification markings.
“At the bottom of the copy obtained by Newsweek, U.S. Army Lieutenant General Jeffrey Buchanan, the commanding general of U.S. Army North, authenticated the document,” Newsweek reported.
Currently, there are about 2,800 active duty troops deployed in various capacities at different locations along the border. Most — 1,200 or so — work in a mobile surveillance capacity helping Border Patrol locate illegal crossers. Another 1,000 are fortifying ports of entry in Texas and New Mexico, while about 200 are assigned to a crisis response force.
It isn’t clear what the additional troops will be doing, but it’s expected they will fill many of the same support roles.
While some units on the border will be replaced by incoming military forces or sent back to their home base, U.S. military planners also extended the deployment time for 19 different units, whose specialties range from infantry and artillery units to aviation squadrons and military police. Those troops are expected to return to their home base on September 30, when the current fiscal year ends for the Defense Department, “or until no longer required.”
Among the units extended until September are two Marine infantry companies from 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, and 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, both out of Camp Pendleton in California. Marine Captain Paul Gainey told Newsweek on Monday that 1st LAR did not deploy to the border with their light armored vehicles, an eight-wheeled armored vehicle equipped with a 25 mm M242 Bushmaster chain gun and two M240 7.62 mm machine guns.
The call for more troops to be sent the border wasn’t unexpected. As we reported earlier this week:
POTUS Donald Trump on Sunday tweeted that he was seriously considering sending additional U.S. troops to the southwest border to assist federal agents in providing more security as they handle a continued influx of illegal aliens.
Meanwhile, some cities along the border with Mexico are pleading for additional assistance after the U.S. Border Patrol shifted personnel to other areas of need, leading migrants to change their entry points.
“It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’ll provide more support to the border,” Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters in response to a question as he prepared to meet with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. “Our support is very elastic, and given the deterioration there at the border, you would expect that we would provide more support.”
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10