More troops bound for border
Cost of security effort is $235M and climbing
WASHINGTON – The Pentagon announced plans Tuesday to send thousands of additional troops to the southern border to bolster security.
The military estimated that it has spent at least $235 million since Octo- ber 2017 deploying active-duty and National Guard troops to string concertina wire, provide transportation for border agents and conduct surveillance along the border.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Tuesday that the new deployment would entail “several thousand. I’ll leave it at that number.”
“We are currently sourcing the units involved, and there will be an increase of a few thousand troops,” Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said in a statement. “We will provide more clarity on the numbers when we have it.”
About 2,300 active-duty troops and nearly as many National Guard soldiers are on the southern border.
About $132 million will be spent through the end of January on the active-duty troops who were ordered there in October, according to Pentagon estimates. President Donald Trump directed more forces to the border to
respond to caravans of migrants from Central America.
The cost of National Guard troops, stationed at the border through the fiscal year that ended in September, was
$103 million, Navy Capt. Bill Speaks, a Pentagon spokesman, said Tuesday. For fiscal year 2019, the Pentagon expects to spend $308 million on deploying National Guard troops.
At a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, the House Armed Services Committee focused on the cost and need for troops at border, most especially active-duty forces.
That hearing followed the temporary resolution of the 35-day government shutdown – the longest in U.S. history – over $5.7 billion in funding that Trump demands for border barriers. Trump accepted a deal to reopen the government through Feb. 15.
Trump has mused about declaring a national emergency, which would allow him to tap funds and use troops to build the wall. The Pentagon confirmed that it has been preparing plans to design and build the wall through the Army Corps of Engineers.
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the new chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said the declaration of an emergency was not justified by the security situation at the border. Illegal border crossings have plummeted since 2006 because of increased manpower at agencies such as the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration and Border Patrol.
“There really isn’t that much evidence of a crisis,” Smith said. He has said an emergency declaration by Trump would prompt a lawsuit.
Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry, the highest ranking Republican on the committee, noted that presidents dating to the Clinton administration in the
1990s have called on the Pentagon to help secure the border.