WASHINGTON — Active military forces will remain at the U.S.-Mexico border at least through September under new orders approved by the Pentagon.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan agreed late Monday to the latest request by the Department of Homeland Security for the active force to remain in support of its efforts along the border.
The extended deployment will mean that — unless orders are adjusted — active forces will be in support of DHS for almost a year.
“In response to the December 27, 2018 request from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan approved Department of Defense assistance to DHS through Sept. 30, 2019,” a Pentagon statement to reporters said. “DoD is transitioning its support at the southwestern border from hardening ports of entry to mobile surveillance and detection, as well as concertina wire emplacement between ports of entry. DoD will continue to provide aviation support.”
Atop the list of duties: Install an additional 160 miles of concertina wire in Arizona and California, Pentagon officials said.
When the latest request was made, Pentagon officials said on background that they would base their decision on capability needs and not the number of forces sought.
The original deployment of active troops, called “Operation Faithful Patriot” before the November 2018 election, was to end in mid-December 2018. That deadline was extended to Jan. 30, 2019.
Roughly 2,350 active-duty troops are assisting DHS, down from a maximum of 5,900. There are also about 2,200 National Guard troops helping DHS under “Operation Guardian Support;” that deployment started in April 2018.
CNN reported that the cost of deploying active troops to the border is projected to be $132 million by the end of January. It also reported the cost of National Guard troops at the border is estimated to cost $308 million by Sept. 30. Pentagon officials remain poised to act should President Donald Trump declare a national emergency and order the Defense Department to build a wall along the border.