Almost 6,000 troops have been stationed at the southern border of the United States in anticipation of the wave of migrants moving up Mexico. Many of those will not be able to go home for thanksgiving. Now reports say that all of the deployed troops will make it home in time for Christmas.
Some of these soldiers may come home this week. The news is encouraging, but it hasn’t quelled the criticism.
“Democrats and Republicans have criticized the deployment as a ploy by the president to use active-duty military forces as a prop to try to stem Republican losses in this month’s midterm elections,” Politico writes.
And the threat that President Trump has identified as the reason for the deployment hasn’t gone away. The first of the so-called migrant caravan is already at the border, and many are beginning the long process for asylum in the US.
The troops, though, were not sent to fight the migrants, but to strengthen the border.
Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the general overseeing the deployment, talked with Politico. In their interview, he indicated that there were aspects of the mission that were already complete, and that some of the troops were redundant.
“Our end date right now is 15 December, and I’ve got no indications from anybody that we’ll go beyond that,” Buchanan said.
The draw down is unexpected news for those celebrating Trump’s hard-line approach to border security. Some troops will remain, though, and those include National Guard troops and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.
The troops that are there currently, despite the popular misconception, are all unarmed. “Buchanan confirmed previous reports that the military had rejected a request from the Department of Homeland Security for an armed force to back up Border Patrol agents in the event of a violent confrontation,” Politico adds.
“That is a law enforcement task, and the secretary of Defense does not have the authority to approve that inside the homeland,” Buchanan noted.
All the troops have been doing so far is reinforcing infrastructure and closing down border crossings.
“Once we get the rest of the obstacles built, we don’t need to keep all those engineers here. As soon as I’m done with a capability, what I intend to do is redeploy it,” Buchanan said. “I don’t want to keep these guys on just to keep them on.”
“I will probably ask to start redeploying some of our logistic capability,” Buchanan said. “Now that things are set down here, we don’t need as many troops to actually build base camps and things like that, because the base camps are built.”
Some of the well-trafficked crossings have been narrowed to slow the pace of border crossings.
“About half of the lanes were closed this morning, but that’s it,” he reported. “No complete closures.”
“If CBP have reliable information that one of their ports is about to get rushed with a mob, or something like that that could put their agents at risk, they could ask us to completely close the port,” Buchanan said. “You understand the importance of commerce at these ports. Nobody in CBP wants to close a port unless they’re actually driven to do so.”