Secretary of Defense James Mattis doesn’t play games.
And he certainly doesn’t see the deployment of thousands of active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border as a “stunt” to impact the 2016 midterm elections.
The Defense Secretary made that quite clear to a reporter who posed a question about the motives behind President Donald Trump’s decision to deploy the troops to the border to prevent thousands of illegal immigrants from flooding the country as the migrant caravan moves closer to the US border.
“There are now more than double the number [of troops] in the migrant caravan. So is this a political stunt as critics allege?” a reporter asked Mattis Wednesday after a Pentagon meeting with South Korea’s defense minister.
Mattis slapped down the claim with a succinct reply.
“The support that we provide to the Secretary for Homeland Security is practical support based on the request from the Commissioner of Customs and Border police,” Mattis responded.
“We don’t do stunts in this department, thank you,” he said.
In response to a follow-up question about whether the troops were meant as a “deterrence,” Mattis again explained the action.
“We’re there in support of the Secretary of Homeland Security, who needs additional military assistance. We do this following storms, we do this in support of the Department of Homeland Security,” he said. “This is a different aspect of it, but this is what we’re doing.”
According to Fox News:
The deployment is in response to the approach of a caravan containing an estimated 4,000 Central American migrants. The Pentagon said late Wednesday that it had identified 7,000 who will be participating in the mission at the border. Approximately 2,000 National Guard members previously have been dispatched to the frontier over the past six months.
Trump vowed the caravan of illegal immigrants will not be allowed into the U.S. in a tweet on Wednesday.
Our military is being mobilized at the Southern Border. Many more troops coming. We will NOT let these Caravans, which are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members, into the U.S. Our Border is sacred, must come in legally. TURN AROUND!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2018
The new troops being sent include military police, combat engineers and helicopters equipped to detect people at night, Fox News reported. They are designed to back existing National Guard troops as federal law prohibits the use of the military as a domestic police force.