US Military’s Deployment to the Southern Border Has Been Extended Another Year

Troops on Southern border
U.S. Army Pvt. Brett Neurohr, a communications technician with 93rd Military Police Battalion, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 7, carries a component for a quick erecting antenna mast while participating in border support near the California-Mexico border on Nov. 14, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Rubin J. Tan)

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Thursday signed off on a new deployment of personnel to the southern U.S. border, a mission to be handled mostly by National Guard members.

The request to support the Department of Homeland Security will keep up to 4,000 Defense Department troops along the border through Sept. 30, 2021, the Pentagon said in a statement. The latest deployment will begin in October.

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"The duties to be performed by military personnel include the same categories of support as those currently being carried out along the border, including detection and monitoring, logistics, and transportation support to U.S. Customs and Border Protection," according to the DoD statement. "Military personnel will not directly participate in civilian law enforcement activities."

Previously, 5,500 military personnel had been authorized for the mission, according to CNN, meaning the new deployment represents a decrease of personnel supporting the CBP.

Troops first began deploying to Texas, Arizona and California in October 2018 as part of "Operation Faithful Patriot," the name originally given to the mission. The Pentagon quietly dropped the name soon after.

Personnel had been expected to stay until Dec. 15 of that year, but rotations continue to be extended.

Service members were largely tasked with laying razor wire at that time, as a migrant caravan from Latin America headed toward the U.S. to seek asylum.

Roughly 5,900 troops were stationed in those states throughout November 2018, what then-Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan referred to as a "peak" in operations tempo.

"I think we're pretty much peaked in terms of the number of people," he said.

The Pentagon did not provide figures on how many troops are currently serving on the border, but said the agencies continue to "review the situation along the border, adjusting requirements as necessary to maintain the safety and security of the American people."

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

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