5,200 Active-Duty Troops Headed to Southern Border
The new U.S. military mission on the border with Mexico involves up to 5,200 active-duty troops who would be on station for several weeks. The first 800, drawn from Fort Campbell and Fort Knox, are already deploying, with the rest expected to be in place by week’s end.
They will join about 2,000 National Guard personnel already on the border.
Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, U.S. Northern Command commander, said the mission, called Operation Faithful Patriot, is “to harden the southern border.”
“We have enough concertina wire to cover up to 22 miles, already deployed already to the border,” he said at an Oct. 29 news conference. “We have additional concertina wire that we can string, with over 150 miles available.”
“We will reinforce along points of entry,” he said. “The specific request for assistance is for the active-duty military to enhance the capacity and capabilities of CBP by providing robust military capabilities,” he said, using the abbreviation for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, part of the Department of Homeland Security.
This will include three experienced combat engineering battalions, military planning teams, integrated command and control, and aviation, medical and logistics assets, O’Shaughnessy said. Military police units also will be part of the mission, and will be armed.
The first troops are being sent to Texas but later deployments will be to other states. “We know border security is national security,” he said. “Our orders are very clear. We are engaged. We are here to support CBP, and we are going to secure the border.”
Two separate groups of people are traveling toward the U.S. border, totaling 6,500 people, including some families and unaccompanied children. “We are preparing for the contingency of a large group of arriving persons intending to enter the United States in the next several weeks,” said Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan.
President Donald Trump said Oct. 30 that the number of U.S. troops committed to the border security mission could reach 15,000 over the next several weeks.