An additional 1,000 troops were ordered to the U.S.-Mexico border in an effort to support ongoing work being done on border fences.
During a Friday news briefing, the Pentagon announced that the troops would be installing barbed wire along border fences already in place, with 140 miles of additional wire to be added, The Hill reported.
“That mission has evolved,” a senior defense official said Friday. “We are now transitioning to supporting [areas] between the ports of entry. We’re laying down another 140 miles of concertina wire — [we’re] about 30 percent done with that — as well as providing a ground-based detection and monitoring mission in support of [Customs and Border Protection].”
Defense officials noted that the additional 1,000 troops would bring the total deployed to the southern border up to about 6,000 by next month.
“Our numbers right now total are about 5,000. They’ll increase to about 6,000 by March 1,” the official explained.
The active-duty troops will be working on existing missions underway at the border, one being “wire placement and the other is the detection and monitoring between the ports of entry.”
“We are not just sending people down there unless there’s a valid requirement and then we try to match, as best we can, resources to the requirement with as much specificity as possible. And if we don’t need those people then we’ll move them somewhere else,” the official said, according to The Hill.
President Trump declared a national emergency earlier in the month when Democrats would not approve the $5.7 billion he requested to build the barrier along the southern U.S. border.
Democrats in the House have introduced a resolution to block Trump’s emergency declaration while the Democratic governors of California and New Mexico ordered the withdrawal of National Guard troops deployed to their state’s borders, with California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom saying, “the border ‘emergency’ is a manufactured crisis.”
Pentagon officials did not indicate on Friday if the Defense Department would be looking for congressional approval before appropriating billions from its budget to fund Trump’s requested border wall.
“It has been the practice of the Department of Defense to request approval and it’s not required by law,” an official said when asked about getting approval before moving $2.5 billion from the Pentagon’s counter-drug program. Officials would reportedly be notifying Congress, as the law requires if there was a reallocation, the official told reporters.
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