Mattis Is Keeping US Troops On the Border Through Christmas and New Year's

James Mattis, U.S. Secretary of Defense, speaks with troops from the 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 62nd Medical Brigade on Nov. 14, 2018 at Base Camp Donna, Texas. (DoD/Master Sgt. Jacob Caldwell)
James Mattis, U.S. Secretary of Defense, speaks with troops from the 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, 62nd Medical Brigade on Nov. 14, 2018 at Base Camp Donna, Texas. (DoD/Master Sgt. Jacob Caldwell)

This article by Jeff Schogol originally appeared on Task & Purpose, a digital news and culture publication dedicated to military and veterans issues.

The border mission with no name will continue past Christmas and through the end of January, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday.

"The Secretary of Defense has approved an extension of the ongoing Department of Defense support to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) response to migrant caravan arrivals," Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said in an email. "DoD support to DHS is authorized until Jan. 31, 2109."

Roughly 5,400 active-duty U.S. troops are currently assisting civil authorities on the southwestern border, but it was unclear on Tuesday how many would remain there during the holidays.

The Army three-star general in charge of the border mission told Politico earlier this month that he did not expect active-duty troops to be deployed beyond Dec. 15, but Defense Secretary Mattis subsequently said not all of the troops might be home for Christmas.

"Some of those troops certainly will be because we can anticipate based on how many miles of wire the engineers have to place when we think they'll be done," Mattis told reporters on Nov. 21. "But some troops may not be, or some new troops may be assigned to new missions. This is a dynamic situation."

Launched in late October, the border mission came in response to thousands of Central American asylum seekers, mostly women and children, who were headed toward the United States via Mexico. President Trump has often claimed without providing evidence that the caravan of migrants includes hundreds of known criminals.

The Defense Department has estimated that the mission will cost $72 million by Dec. 15. "I am confident that number will go up," Mattis told reporters at the Nov. 21 press event. "Now I'm on the record, I hope you all heard me."

More articles from Task & Purpose:

Taliban Number Around 60,000, General Says

CENTCOM Nominee Admits Afghan Military Would Collapse If US Left

The Key To Bridging The Civil-Military Divide, According To Mattis

Show Full Article