On Friday, Texas and Arizona announced a plan to send troops from the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempt to comply with President Donald Trump’s fight against drug trafficking and illegal immigration.
The president had initially proposed on Tuesday that he wanted to send anywhere from “2,000 to 4,000” troops to bolster security and act as a defense against two of the most widespread crimes along America’s southern border.
As reported by AFP, the Texas National Guard said it would be sending 250 troops to the border, and Arizona’s governor stated that he would send out nearly 150 by next week.
“The Texas national guard is preparing to immediately deploy with supporting aircraft, vehicles and equipment to the Texas-Mexico border,” said Brigadier General Tracy Norris, the commanding general of the Texas National Guard.
“This deployment has begun with the movement of equipment and troops today,” she added. “Within 72 hours the Texas military department will have 250 personnel along with ground surveillance vehicles as well as light and medium aviation platforms.”
According to a Department of Defense memo, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis signed the order for up to 4,000 troops to support the U.S. southern border security mission while relying on the command and leadership of their respective governors.
The order is said to last until Sept. 30, 2018, and both Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will be required to submit reports within 30 days of its inception to detail what other resources may be needed along the border.
The memo highlighted the fact that the troops would not be carrying out any type of law enforcement activity — save for the defense secretary’s approval — and that they would only be armed in those circumstances where self-defense is required.
Both Mattis and Nielsen admitted that the decision to send the National Guard to the southern border came after their respective departments were able to identify vulnerabilities in security that could be addressed by deploying troops.
“Together, the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense are committed to using every lever of power to support the men and women of law enforcement defending our nation’s sovereignty and protecting the American people,” the pair said in a joint statement released last week.
“We will continue to work with the governors to deploy the necessary resources until our nation’s borders are secure,” they added.
The Department of Defense also announced Thursday that in addition to the presence of the National Guard, U.S. border security will include aviation, surveillance, communications and logistics support.
During his announcement confirming the deployment of troops to the border, Trump alluded to the fact that they will be staying there until his promised border wall is finished — raising tensions and causing questions about the cost.
Shortly after the move, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto called the U.S. president’s “threatening or disrespectful attitudes” unjustified.
The lengthy-plan has also raised questions regarding the cost of the mission, which would be nearly double to the current U.S. military presence in Syria.
Though the Pentagon declined to state exactly where the money would be coming from in order to fund the nearly 4,000 troops along the border, Trump admitted that the White House was still “looking at” the costs.
According to CNN, the number of troops sent by Trump falls somewhere in the middle of his predecessors, as former President George W. Bush sent 6,000 troops to the border in 2006 and former President Barack Obama sent 1,200 in 2011 — which cost more than $1.3 billion combined.
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