WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has approved sending another 2,100 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border Wednesday, about half from the National Guard and half active-duty personnel.
The extra forces were sought two weeks ago by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, with the request made through the Department of Homeland Security. The request was approved Tuesday night by Acting Defense Secretary Richard Spencer.
Before the new deployments, there were roughly 2,500 active troops and 2,000 National Guard forces on duty along the border.
Approximately 750 of the new Guard troops will be used to augment support at the Custom and Border Protection’s temporary adult migrant holding facilities in Donna, Texas and Tornillo, Texas.
“Texas National Guard personnel will assist DHS law enforcement personnel with operational, logistical, and administrative support. Migrants will be supervised by DHS law enforcement personnel,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The other 250 Guard members are to provide support at CBP-designated ports of entry and airports in Texas to enhance border security and improve the flow of commercial traffic, the Pentagon said.
“Decisions regarding arming military personnel and related rules for the use of force will be informed by the circumstances of their mission and be made by the Governor of Texas, in consultation with CBP,” the Pentagon said.
The duties of the new 1,100 active troops were less defined. The troops will engage in “aerial surveillance, operational, logistical, and administrative support” and “will be providing backfill….due to a shortfall in volunteer National Guard personnel,” the Pentagon said.
About 2,200 National Guard troops were initially deployed to assist the Department of Homeland Security on the U.S.-Mexico border under Operation Guardian Support. That deployment started in April 2018 and is open-ended.
Active-duty troops first arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border on Oct. 29, 2018, and reached 5,600 on Nov. 8, 2018. That number edged up to 5,900 and then dropped steadily until Super Bowl Sunday, when the Pentagon announced the deployment of 3,750 active troops.
The initial deployment, called Operation Faithful Patriot until the November mid-term elections, was to end in mid-December. That was extended until Jan. 30, 2019, and then extended again until Sept. 30, 2019.