Military Won’t Leave Border Until Its Secure, says Acting Defense Chief

$1.5 billion announced to help finance border wall barriers on U.S.-Mexico Border

AUSTIN, Texas (Texas Insider Report) — “We’re not going to leave until the border is secure. This isn’t about identifying a problem. It’s about fixing a problem,” said Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan during his weekend visit to the Texas border, adding that he intends to accelerate planning to secure the border and bolster the Trump Administration’s ability to accomplish that without the Pentagon’s continuous help.

Shanahan also offered assurances to perhaps two dozen Border Patrol agents and other officials at the McAllen Border Patrol Station that the Pentagon would not withdraw its military support prematurely.

Shanahan told Congress last week that there are 4,364 military troops on the border, including active-duty and National Guard. They are erecting barriers, providing logistics and transportation service and other activities in support of Customs & Border Protection (CBP).

Shanahan announced on Friday that he was transferring $1.5 billion from numerous defense projects, including $604 million originally intended for use in support of Afghan security forces, to a Pentagon counter-drug fund that will help finance construction of barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border.

That is in addition to $1 billion the Pentagon transferred for wall construction in March.

Troops have been deployed on the border since last October, and are committed to being there through September.

While flying to Texas, Shanahan dismissed suggestions that active-duty forces will extend their mission for the long haul. “It will not be indefinite,” he told reporters traveling with him.

On May 3, Shanahan told reporters
that the border crisis had developed more quickly than anyone had anticipated,
putting extra pressure on DHS.

“I don’t think anybody thought it
would be this bad, the situation would deteriorate like it has, and that
distress would be as high on those front-line (DHS) employees,” he said.

Shanahan also said he has instructed a two-star Army general, Ricky Waddell, to develop a plan that will answer this question:

“How do we get more badges back to the border?” — a reference to ensuring that the Homeland Security Department is fully capable of its core mission, securing the border.

“What we want is for DHS to be effective and stand alone,” Shanahan said, with the Pentagon always available to help in an emergency, as it has in the past.

On Friday, DHS submitted another request for Pentagon assistance. That request, which has not previously been disclosed, is to shelter detained migrants, and would include tents to be set up, but not secured, by an undetermined number of military troops, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning.

Shanahan has supported the use of
active-duty troops, in addition to the National Guard, to bolster CPB efforts
to handle surging numbers of Central American migrants seeking to cross the
border. But recently he has hinted at impatience with the lack of a long-term
strategy for ensuring border security.

In congressional testimony May 1, Shanahan said he and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have been considering the question of how long the military will be needed at the border and how best it can support that need.

As a prelude to the trip, the White House on Thursday announced that Trump intends to nominate Shanahan as defense secretary, ending months of speculation about Pentagon leadership.

He has served in an interim capacity since Jan. 1, an unprecedented period of uncertainty at the helm of the Pentagon.

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Source: Texas Politics

Military Won’t Leave Border Until Its Secure, says Acting Defense Chief

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