The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Wednesday said that the Pentagon is working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a “multiyear plan" for the border, suggesting that active duty and National Guard troops will be deployed to the southern border for the remainder of President’s Trump's first term.
“What we’re hopeful to do is to have, in fairly short order, for the secretary of Homeland Security, a much more predictable, comprehensive plan for the next couple years,” Gen. Joseph Dunford said during a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing.
The Defense Department has provided a two-star general “plus a number of planners” to DHS “to “lay out the next couple of years.”
Dunford said the so-called interagency planning team will prepare around the number of migrants expected to come to the southern U.S. border, the capacity of DHS to handle the migrants and the expected support DHS will need from the rest of the government.
“Although the commitment to the border hasn’t impacted our preparedness for other missions at this point, what we wanted to do is get into a more predictable mode of the requirements that the Department of Homeland Security has and do better at integrating across the government,” Dunford said.
There are now about 4,364 U.S. service member at the border, a mix of active-duty and National Guard members, according to acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who testified alongside Dunford.
About 1,167 of the service members are performing the primary role of monitoring and detection, but a broader set of missions range from logistical support to aviation support to food service.
The administration has said troops will stay at such posts until DHS “no longer requires [Department of Defense] support to secure the southern border.”
As of last month, the deployment is expected to cost at least $534 million by the end of the fiscal year in September.
Late last month, Shanahan approved a DHS request to send about 320 more military personnel to help with handling migrants entering the United States, easing restrictions on troops interacting with migrants.
In addition, the Army Corps of Engineer is currently on contract to build about 256 miles of barrier.
“How you will see this materialize in the next six months is about 63 new miles of wall will come online, so about half a mile a day will be produced,” Shanahan said.