Saturday, 17 November, 2018

On election eve, Trump continues to play up military's role at border

Texas company secures $145 million contract to build part of border wall US troops seen setting up barbed wire near Mexico border
Andrew Cummings | 08 November, 2018, 03:26

The Trump administration last week ordered the deployment of thousands of active-duty troops to support Customs and Border Protection Agents in Texas, Arizona and California in response to the caravans.

President Trump on Saturday referred to the barbed wire as "beautiful" and said that "barbed wire used properly can be a handsome sight".

More than 8,000 active duty troops could be deployed troops to the southwest border, more than he has serving in some of the world's most contentious combat zones, but they are there exclusively to support Homeland Security officials as they prepare for the migrants' arrival.

"We're not going to put up with that", Trump said during a White House press conference.

The service members on the border "know exactly what they are doing, they know why they are doing it and they have the proper training and equipment to do it", he said.

The deployment is being called "Operation Faithful Patriot".

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told reporters Monday that US troops deployed to the southern border are there to assist the Department of Homeland Security, and not "the actual mission of denying people entry to the United States".

From a military standpoint, he said, he asked a number of questions.

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"There is no plan for us military forces to be involved in the actual mission of denying people entry into the United States", Dunford said.

Defense officials have repeatedly emphasized the troops at the border are there to support civil authorities and that they are not expected to come into any contact with migrants. "Self defense is an inalienable right of an American soldier".

The Pentagon's statement is also aimed at dispelling the notion that the troops will be involved in law enforcement, but will rather be working on projects focused on "hardening" the border.

Trump has been very vocal about the caravan, calling it an "invasion" and saying it will be met by the military.

As of Monday, US officials told Reuters that about 4,800 troops participating in the mission "Operation Faithful Patriot" are near the border.

"There is no plan for DoD personnel to interact with migrants or protesters", he said, as reported by Military Times.

Manning noted that DHS had requested that active duty troops, rather than reservists - who usually partake in operations on United States soil - for this operation.

There is still no official cost estimate made public for the 45-day mission, but Manning said the Defense Department will "absorb" the costs of the operation.

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