Pentagon says border missions to cost over $500 million

The Trump administration's deployment of troops to the southern border is expected to cost at least $534 million by the end of the fiscal year in September, the Pentagon told lawmakers in a letter released Tuesday.

That includes $350 million on the National Guard-backed mission called Operation Guardian Support for the current and previous fiscal year, and $184 million for the active-duty supported mission called Operation Secure Line.

The Operation Secure Line amount only accounts for the total through the end of this past January, meaning the cost will almost definitely rise.

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“The DoD border support mission continues to evolve as the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Northern Command refine the operation,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security Kenneth Rapuano wrote in the letter. “As a result, DoD is in the process of capturing requirements and estimating the potential costs. This cost will depend on the total size, duration and scope of the support.”

Rapuano’s letter was a response to one sent in February by 13 Democrats who are veterans or otherwise have a national security background.

In the original letter, organized by Rep. Anthony BrownAnthony Gregory BrownSunday Show Preview: Trump's allies and administration defend decision on Syria A dozen House Democrats call on EU ambassador to resign amid Ukraine scandal Assault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress MORE (D-Md.), the lawmakers expressed “deepening concern” over the use of Pentagon resources at the southern border.

There are about 6,000 U.S. troops on the border right now, including about 3,900 active-duty troops and about 2,100 National Guard members. Prior to the release of Rapuano’s letter, the Pentagon's last official cost estimate for the active-duty troops was $132 million by the end of this past January.

Marines Commandant Gen. Robert Neller also revealed earlier Tuesday that his service’s share of the border deployment has been $6.2 million.

Rapuano told the lawmakers that troops will stay at the southern border until the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “no longer requires DoD support to secure the southern border.”

Rapuano also said the Pentagon is deferring to DHS “to describe its long-term strategy for securing the southern border.

Brown said the letter shows there is “no real mission” at the border.

“The National Guard has been deployed to the border for a year, active duty personnel have been on the border for almost six months, and DOD's position is that they will all remain there until DHS doesn't need them anymore,” he tweeted. “There is no real mission, and no strategy for success.”