Warren, Gillibrand ask Defense whether border deployments hurt troop readiness

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenFederal Reserve officials' stock trading sparks ethics review Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandHochul tells Facebook to 'clean up the act' on abortion misinformation after Texas law Democratic senators request probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees The FBI comes up empty-handed in its search for a Jan. 6 plot 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 ShanahanSenators introducing bill to penalize Pentagon for failed audits Overnight Defense: National Guard boosts DC presence ahead of inauguration | Lawmakers demand probes into troops' role in Capitol riot | Financial disclosures released for Biden Pentagon nominee Biden Pentagon pick could make up to .7M from leaving Raytheon 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 TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal 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 ReedJack ReedTop Republican: General told senators he opposed Afghanistan withdrawal We have a plan that prioritizes Afghanistan's women — we're just not using it This week: Democrats kick off chaotic fall with Biden's agenda at stake MORE (D-R.I.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken We have a plan that prioritizes Afghanistan's women — we're just not using it Scott Brown's wife files to run for Congress MORE (D-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthTop Republican: General told senators he opposed Afghanistan withdrawal Democrats brace for battle on Biden's .5 trillion spending plan Conservation group says it will only endorse Democrats who support .5T spending plan MORE (D-Ill.).