Pentagon estimates border troop deployment to cost $72M

The Pentagon estimates that the deployment of roughly 5,900 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border will cost $72 million, according to a Department of Defense (DOD) spokesman.

The total cost of the operation “has yet to be determined and will depend on the total size, duration, and scope of the DoD support to [the Department of Homeland Security],” Col. Rob Manning said in a statement late Tuesday, adding that the current cost estimate “to deploy, operate, sustain, and redeploy forces is approximately $72 million.”

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The estimate is based on the “current phased force laydown of approximately 5,900" active-duty service members staying at the southern border through Dec. 15, he said.

Manning added that the estimate “includes only those DoD forces and support requested and approved" as of Nov. 19.

Democratic lawmakers in the past week have upped the pressure on the Trump administration to provide answers on the troop deployment, which was ordered by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's top adviser on Asia to serve as deputy national security adviser United Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Trump doubles down on call to investigate Biden after whistleblower complaint: 'That's the real story' MORE shortly before the midterm elections in November as a caravan of Central American migrants moved northward through Mexico.

Democrats and former uniformed leaders have accused the president of injecting partisan politics into the armed forces and not showing enough support for troops serving in combat.

A group of Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday sent a letter to Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisClimate change threatens the backbone of America's global power The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico Trump needs a national security adviser who 'speaks softly' MORE calling for a briefing and written justification from the military for the deployment.

The signatories, which included likely Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOmar: Biden not the candidate to 'tackle a lot of the systematic challenges that we have' Seven takeaways from a busy Democratic presidential campaign weekend in Iowa Democrats go all out to court young voters for 2020 MORE (I-Vt.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSeven takeaways from a busy Democratic presidential campaign weekend in Iowa Iowa GOP swipes at 2020 Democrats' meat positions as candidates attend annual Steak Fry Booker aide sounds alarm about campaign's funding MORE (D-N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSeven takeaways from a busy Democratic presidential campaign weekend in Iowa Fracking ban could have unintended consequence of boosting coal Poll: Voters back Medicare expansion, keeping private insurance MORE (D-Calif.), also urged Mattis to otherwise “curb the unprecedented escalation of DOD involvement in immigration enforcement.”