It has been one month since the Trump administration moved to deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border and now the Pentagon is quietly pushing ahead in moving troops and equipment south.
At least 1,500 guardsmen have been sent to the border to curtail a “surge of illegal activity,” according to Trump, amid outstanding questions about the cost of the endeavor, how long troops will stay and how warranted the move is.
Defense Secretary James Mattis followed Trump’s initial order with a memo authorizing the placement of up to 4,000 National Guard troops on the border.
Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) have sent two requests for assistance to the Pentagon’s new Border Security Support Cell, which was established to aid the coordination between the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security.
It’s estimated that it will cost $182 million to keep 2,093 guardsmen at the border through the end of September, which represents just more than half of the personnel approved.
The amount covers $151 million in pay and allowances for the 2,093 personnel, as well as $31 million for 12,000 flying hours for 26 UH-72 Lakota helicopters, according to a defense memo on the amount.
The Pentagon has only approved the support through Sept. 30, though Trump has indicated the troops will stay at the border “until such time as we get the wall.”
Former President George W. Bush deployed 6,000 National Guard troops to the southern border in 2006 to assist the Border Patrol while more agents were hired and trained and former President Obama made a similar deployment in 2010, sending 1,200 National Guards troops there.
As Bob Lang’s cartoon points out, the rules of engagement for troops along the border have certainly changed drastically in the last 100 plus years.
What say you SOFREP? Is this a waste of time or the right course of action? Sound off in the comments.