Posted on October 30, 2018

Pentagon to Deploy 5,200 Active Duty Troops to U.S.-Mexico Border to Halt Migrant Caravan

Alan Gomez and Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, October 30, 2017

Just one week shy of the midterm elections, the Pentagon will deploy at least 5,200 active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in an effort to prevent members of a migrant caravan from illegally entering the country, the Department of Defense announced Monday.

About 2,100 National Guard troops already were fanned out across the border under an order from President Donald Trump this year. {snip}

Administration officials said last week that they were considering a plan to send up to 1,000 active-duty troops to the border, but that deployment, dubbed Operation Faithful Patriot, will now surpass 5,200, said Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, commander of U.S. Northern Command. He said the number of troops could rise depending on the demands placed on U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents manning the border.

“That is just the start of this operation,” O’Shaughnessy said during a news conference at CBP headquarters in Washington on Monday. “Border security is national security.”

The troops will not conduct law enforcement activities, but some will be armed as they provide support to Border Patrol agents along the border.


The operation will also include engineering units to build temporary barriers, lay out concertina wire at ports of entry, and construct temporary housing for U.S. personnel, he said. About 800 troops are already en route to Texas from Fort Campbell and Fort Knox, and more will follow this week headed toward Arizona and California.


Critics accused Trump of using the Pentagon as a tool in his political game by drumming up anti-immigrant fears to rally his political base in the lead-up to the midterm elections.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, who has 16,500 Border Patrol agents along the southwest border, said the additional manpower is needed because the region is in a state of crisis. He said an average of 1,900 people a day have been arriving illegally or without official documents for the last three weeks, straining his agency’s resources to process illegal border crossers and process legal ones.


“Our message to the organizers and the participants in the caravan is simple: As the president and (Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen) Nielsen have made clear, we will not allow a large group to enter the United States in an illegal and unsafe manner,” he said.