Mattis explains border mission dropped name to avoid using military terms

Mattis explains border mission dropped name to avoid using military terms
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Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions Trump says he intends to nominate Esper to lead Pentagon Trump expected to nominate Esper as Defense chief MORE on Wednesday explained why the Pentagon last week announced they would no longer refer to the U.S. military mission at the southern border as "Operation Faithful Patriot." 

Mattis told reporters that he felt calling the troop deployment an "operation" was misleading.

"When the name of the mission first came in, I had given instructions, 'I do not want to put this mission in some arcane military terms,'" Mattis said. "'If what we’re doing is laying wire, don’t talk about implementing a barrier plan.'"

Mattis said he told defense officials, "'I want to talk to the American people because this is a highly politically visible issue and I want you to tell them what we’re doing.'" 

Pentagon officials were instructed last week to refer to the deployment of more than 7,000 active-duty military personnel as "border support," Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis told The Hill.

The troops were deployed at President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE's request in order to provide support to border police, Mattis said. He added the "reporting" about the name change was a result of his "continued direction to quit using military terms." 

Trump directed that the Pentagon to deploy the troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in anticipation of a caravan of several thousand Central American migrants making its way through Mexico to the U.S. The shrinking group is still several weeks away from reaching the border. 

Democrats and immigration rights advocates accused the president of seeking to stoke anti-immigrant and xenophobic fears ahead of the midterm elections by deploying troops to stave off the so-called migrant caravan. Trump spoke publicly about the caravan in dramatic terms, calling it an "invasion," in the weeks leading up to Election Day. 

Pentagon officials have said the thousands of troops will not directly interact with the migrants approaching the U.S. border. They will assist Border Patrol staff to fill in gaps in physical barriers along the border.