Warren, Gillibrand ask Defense whether border deployments hurt troop readiness

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenNew poll catapults Buttigieg to frontrunner position in Iowa Bloomberg, Patrick take different approaches after late entries into primary race Deval Patrick: a short runway, but potential to get airborne MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandMaloney primary challenger calls on her to return, donate previous campaign donations from Trump Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee She Should Run launches initiative to expand number of women in political process 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 ShanahanDefense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall Why Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary 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 TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election 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 ReedIt's time for Congress to establish a national mental health crisis number America's avengers deserve an advocate Democrats unifying against Joe Kennedy Senate bid MORE (D-R.I.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOn The Money: US paid record .1B in tariffs in September | Dems ramp up oversight of 'opportunity zones' | Judge hints at letting House lawsuit over Trump tax returns proceed Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Overnight Defense: Trump, Erdogan confirm White House meeting | Public impeachment hearings set for next week | Top defense appropriator retiring MORE (D-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthDuckworth celebrates Veterans Day with deported veterans in Mexico Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect military families from deportation Nuclear command nominee sidesteps questions on arms control treaties MORE (D-Ill.).