Warren, Gillibrand ask Defense whether border deployments hurt troop readiness

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenAre Democrats turning Trump-like? Manufacturing shrinks, raising questions for Trump Volatile presidential polls spark new round of anxieties MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSteve King to Gillibrand: Odds of me resigning same as yours of winning presidential nomination The Hill's Morning Report — Recession fears climb and markets dive — now what? King incites furor with abortion, rape and incest remarks MORE (D-N.Y.) are among a group of six Senate Democrats calling on the Department of Defense to explain whether deployments to the southern border are negatively affecting the combat readiness of troops.

In a letter sent Monday to acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanWhy Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary Five questions for Trump's new defense secretary on first major tour Trump says media is part of vetting his nominees: 'We save a lot of money that way' MORE, the senators wrote that they are "extraordinarily distressed" by concerns raised by Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller regarding the effect of deployment to the border on readiness.

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Neller wrote in internal memos in February and March that deployments to the southern border and funding transfers under President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE's declaration of a national emergency were posing an "unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency," according to the Los Angeles Times, which obtained copies of the memos.

Neller added in the memos that he had canceled or reduced military training in at least five countries because of the president's “unplanned/unbudgeted” border deployment and the funding transfers.

In Monday's letter, the senators referenced Neller's memo while noting that other military officials have said recently that troop deployment has not affected readiness. They also asked Shanahan to explain those "discrepancies."

"To the extent the southern border deployment is causing readiness concerns, they must be addressed immediately," the senators added, while also requesting that Shanahan provide "a staff-level briefing on this matter within seven days" and a written explanation detailing how he will address Neller's concerns.

In addition to Warren and Gillibrand, Monday's letter was also signed by Sens. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedSenators ask for committee vote on 'red flag' bills after shootings Senate Democrats demand Trump order review of White House security clearances Overnight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador MORE (D-R.I.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenLewandowski says he's 'happy' to testify before House panel The Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE (D-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthOvernight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador Senate committee advances nomination of general accused of sexual assault Overnight Defense: General accused of sexual assault to get confirmation hearing | Senate to vote Monday on overriding Saudi arms deal veto | Next Joint Chiefs chair confirmed | Graham tries to ease Turkey tensions MORE (D-Ill.).