The United States plans to send 3,750 more troops to the Mexico border, the Pentagon announced on Sunday. The plan is to build 150 miles of concertina wire across the US-Mexico border, and up the Customs and Border Protection.
This will take the number of active troops on the border to 4,350. Pat Shanahan, the Acting Defense Secretary, had given an estimate for the upcoming military mission last week. However, some have criticized the move as a ploy to support the President’s dream of erecting a border wall around Mexico.
On Tuesday, the Defense Secretary had stated that more troops would be sent to the frontier to build extra wire fences, besides installing a mobile surveillance unit. The Pentagon on Sunday informed that the mobile surveillance mission will be on till September this year.
Congress members believe the mission is taking the edge off the US troops by sending them to the border for building a fence, whereas they should be engaged in combat roles. The first batch of active-duty troops were dispatched on October 30, which was likely to end on December 15. However, the mission has been extended two times since then.
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the House Armed Services Committee chairman said last week: “What impact does it have to readiness to send several thousand troops down to the Southern border? It interrupts their training. It interrupts their dwell time.”
Migration from Mexico has not risen in the past 4 years. Smith is of the opinion that the fear of 400,000 illegal immigrants sneaking from the US-Mexico border routinely every year does not hold much ground because it is lower than it was in its peak at 2004-05. Then, over 1 million illegal immigrants had crossed over annually.
He said, “There’s really not much evidence that right at the moment, it is a crisis that would call for the ̶ if not unprecedented, then highly unusual ̶ step of sending active ̶ duty troops to the border.”
Refuting such charges, Vice Admiral Mike Gilday, the Joint Staff operations director said at the hearing that dispatching of troops to the US-Mexico military does not necessarily affect their readiness. However, he added troop members will work in the mission on a rotational six-eight weeks.
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