Pentagon sends mixed signals on border presence

Pentagon sends mixed signals on border presence
© Getty Images

The Pentagon on Monday sent mixed messages on its troop border deployment plans, insisting no final decisions have been made while also posting to social media a video of an aircraft being loaded to send to the U.S.-Mexico border "in support of Operation Faithful Patriot.”

The video, posted to Facebook by U.S. Transportation Command (Transcom) on Monday afternoon, depicts Air Force airmen loading a C-17 military transport aircraft with Army equipment “deploying to the U.S. Southwest Border region in support of Operation Faithful Patriot,” according to the post.


Transcom, based at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., is the arm of the military that manages the movement of servicemen and equipment across the globe.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Monday that the Defense Department planned to deploy about 5,000 troops to the southern border — a steep jump over last week’s estimate of 800 — to assist with the Trump administration’s response to a so-called migrant caravan of asylum seekers.

In response, the Pentagon said that planning is still underway and no final decisions have been made.

The department also has not confirmed that the name of the deployment is Operation Faithful Patriot, despite the Facebook post.

“Planning is still underway,” Pentagon spokeswoman Laura Seal said in a statement to The Hill. “It remains premature to speculate total numbers or specific forces to be selected to accomplish the requested missions."

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisFed chief issues stark warning to Congress on deficits Why US democracy support matters Hillicon Valley: DOJ indicts four Chinese military officers over Equifax hack | Amazon seeks Trump deposition in 'war cloud' lawsuit | Inside Trump's budget | Republican proposes FTC overhaul MORE on Friday approved a request for assistance from the Department of Homeland Security after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump administration eyes proposal to block jet engine sales to China: report Trump takes track to open Daytona 500 Brazile 'extremely dismayed' by Bloomberg record MORE, infuriated by a group of roughly 4,000 migrants traveling from Central America to the United States, ordered the military to send active duty troops to the border.

About 2,100 National Guard troops are already at the border in a support role to Customs and Border Patrol.

Active duty troops will likely be assisting in the same role as the National Guard as the U.S. military is barred by statute from enforcing U.S. laws, including immigration laws, on U.S. soil.

“The president’s number one job and number one priority is to protect the safety and security of Americans and he’s going to do what he deems necessary to in order to do that,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters Monday when asked why Trump feels it’s necessary to send active duty troops.