By Lucas Tomlinson, Fox News
Roughly 5,200 U.S. troops will be deploying to the southern border in response to the migrant caravan pushing north through Mexico, U.S. officials told Fox News on Monday.
Some of the troops will be deploying as early as Tuesday. The reinforcements headed to the U.S.-Mexico border are support troops – not combat troops – and will include engineers, as well as aviation and medical personnel.
A U.S. official initially put the estimate at 5,000 troops Monday before another official raised the number to 5,200. The U.S. Air Force plans to airlift in 400 additional Border Patrol personnel as well.
(The U.S. Department of Defense said Monday that more than 5,200 military troops would be deployed by the end of this week to the U.S.-Mexico border instead of the initial 800 in response to the migrant caravan making its way through Mexico. Courtesy of Global News and YouTube. Posted on Oct 29, 2018.)
The troop deployment, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, had been expected after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis approved the request last week. But the number of troops is far higher than initial estimates.
There are three planned staging areas: in South Texas, Arizona and California, for what’s now been dubbed Operation Faithful Patriot.
The mission’s U.S. ground commander is Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, who was sent to Puerto Rico last year to lead Hurricane Maria relief efforts.
The troops are coming from military posts including Fort Bragg, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Fort Stewart, Fort Campbell, Fort Riley and Fort Knox.
(Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen discusses the request for troops to be sent to the border ahead of expected arrival of migrant caravan, wave of pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats. Courtesy of Fox News and YouTube. Posted on Oct 25, 2018.)
President Trump, meanwhile, has called for the caravan to turn back and warned its members that the military “is waiting for you!”
He tweeted Monday: “Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border.”
“Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”
Fox News has learned military police will be among those headed to the border, though they will not be acting in a law enforcement role – but rather in a “force protection” mission, guarding any U.S. military personnel supporting the Border Patrol, according to another official.
Combat troops are not being considered, though the bulk of the reinforcements going to the border are active-duty forces.
Because they would not be performing law enforcement duties they would not be in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the federal government from using the armed forces in a domestic police role.
There already are about 2,000 National Guard troops assisting at the border under a previous Pentagon arrangement.
With thousands of additional troops headed south, there will be roughly the same number of American forces positioned along the southern border as there are deployed to Iraq and Syria combined.
(Learn More. Less than two weeks before the midterm election, the Trump administration is expected to deploy at least 800 additional troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. But they will not have the authority to apprehend illegal immigrants. Courtesy of CBS Evening News. Posted on Oct 25, 2018.)
While troops are being deployed, White House officials are continuing to discuss possible executive or regulatory action to prevent people in the caravan from coming across the border.
One idea under consideration is a measure that would only allow asylum claims to be made at a port of entry or border crossing.
Under the idea, anyone who tried to make an asylum claim by crossing the border illegally would be deemed inadmissible – and their claim would be denied.
The caravan of Central American migrants continues its journey north from southern Mexico, but is still roughly 1,000 miles away from the southern border with the U.S.
The caravan is now estimated at about 4,000 people.
Fox News’ John Roberts and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
(Thousands of migrants from Central America are expected to reach the U.S. – Mexico border in coming weeks, after declining an offer by Mexico to stay. The Trump administration, which has already stationed thousands of troops and guardsmen there, aims to stop them from crossing. Courtesy of PBS NewsHour and YouTube. Posted on Oct 27, 2018.)
Additional Personnel to Deploy to Southwest Border
October 26, 2018 – By Jim Garamone
Like Operation Guardian Support, which is supported by 2,100 National Guardsmen, this additional assistance is in support of President Donald J. Trump’s April 4, 2018, memorandum, “Securing the Southern Border of the United States.”
Military planners are already deployed to assist Customs and Border Protection planning efforts. Additional military personnel should start arriving on Oct. 30.
“We have a formal request for assistance from the Department of Homeland Security,” a DOD official said on background.
“This is a temporary support requirement. Right now, the time frame runs from Oct. 30 to Dec. 15, if needed.”
Aviation, Ground Support
The effort is broken into aviation support and ground support, said DOD officials. DOD will provide strategic airlift for the effort.
This will allow DHS to move large numbers of federal law enforcement agents to the points of entry where they are most needed, officials said.
There is a tactical airlift portion of the effort as well – allowing Homeland Security personnel to quickly deploy small teams to reinforce ports of entry, officials said.
On the ground, DOD will provide mobile command-and-control facilities outside of the ports of entry.
The department will also deploy engineers to reinforce barriers against pedestrians at ports of entry. The engineers will also provide temporary housing for up to 2,500 U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel.
“This is housing for people who have to surge to one port of entry,” the official said.
There will also be a medical force to provide triage and treatment if needed.
The department has also been tasked to provide riot gear for 500 Border Patrol personnel.
Where the service members will come from — and whether they will be active duty, National Guard or reserve — has not been determined yet, officials said. It is likely that they will come from bases near the border, the official said.
Border Deployment Key Facts:
- Additional military personnel will deploy to the U.S. Southwestern border to support the Department of Homeland Security’s border control efforts.
- President Donald J. Trump ordered the effort and Defense Secretary James N. Mattis signed the deployment order today.
- This effort is separate and distinct from the National Guard’s Operation Guardian Support, which has 2,100 National Guardsmen already working with DHS officials.
- Military planners already deployed and are working with CBP planners. Additional military personnel should start arriving at the border on Oct. 30.
- The effort is broken into aviation and ground support.
- Where the service members will come from — and whether they will be active duty, National Guard or reserve members — has not been determined.
(After the attacks of 9/11, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) drastically changed the way it was conducting airspace defense and began to look for threats not only outside the borders of the U.S. and Canada, but now also from within. Courtesy of the Department of Defense and YouTube. Posted on Sep 11, 2018.)