Pentagon ramps up military activity across border before midterms

02 November, 2018, 06:49 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • National Guard Border

"We go for about a month, I stopped counting the days, we are helped by Almighty God and the good people you meet on the way", says this mother of a family.

Kevin McAleenan, the top USA border security official, said the decision to send troops was not motivated by electoral politics but rather was a law enforcement necessity, as US agents prepare for the possibility that crowds of migrants will amass and turn unruly.

Officials on Monday played down any political motive, saying that it was about safety and deterring the caravan of around 3,500 migrants which is heading to the border. They clashed with Mexican federal police who refused to let them into Mexico.

The second group back at the Guatemalan frontier has been more unruly than the first that crossed.

More than a thousand Honduran migrants broke through a Guatemalan police cordon to reach the river the day before, attempting to join a larger caravan walking toward the United States border.

US officials have stressed that the troops would not police the border and instead carry out support roles like building tents and barricades, and flying USA customs personnel to locations along the border. He also said Mexico was prepared to offer asylum to members of the caravan.

The White House is also weighing additional border security measures, including blocking those traveling in the caravan from seeking legal asylum and keeping them from entering the U.S.

Mr Trump is not the first president to send troops to the border with Mexico.

Trump reiterated that he wanted to set up "tent cities" to hold people coming to the US, including those seeking asylum.

O'Shaughnessy seemed to put to rest any speculation that military troops would conduct unprecedented operations at the southern border under the impending deployment. O'Shaughnessy, asked why the National Guard was not selected for the new mission, said the military is bringing "additional capability" with the active-duty troops.

Imagery released by the Defense Department online suggests that other units already participating in the mission, dubbed Operation Faithful Patriot, include the 89th Military Police Brigade's Task Force Griffin out of Fort Hood and the 19th Engineering Battalion out of Fort Knox.

The troops will come from Army bases around the country, including Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Riley in Kansas, Fort Campbell in Kentucky, and Joint Base Lewis McCord in Washington. A previous migrant caravan this year ended with about 200 people at the border between Tijuana and San Diego in early May, where they turned themselves over to authorities on the US side and applied for asylum.

Lackland AFB and Davis Monthan AFB, along with Camp Pendleton in California will serve as staging areas so the active duty troops can receive training on the rules of engagement and CBP procedures when they are eventually deployed along the border.

The troops will join the more than 2,000 National Guardsmen that Trump has already deployed to the border.

The new deployment will consist largely of engineering, aviation, medical and planning specialists, O'Shaugnessy said. US officials have told Reuters the support mission would be coordinated by the USA military's Northern Command.

In addition, thousands of additional reserve forces are on hand to be sent to the border, The Hill reported. "At the same time, we must take appropriate steps, as [former] Presidents Obama and Bush did, to carry out the essential duties of a national government". Earlier Monday, Trump tweeted accusations about the caravan without citing any evidence.



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