Pentagon could extend National Guard mission at southern border

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The National Guard deployment to the U.S.-Mexico border could continue past its expected fall end date, the head of U.S. Northern Command said Tuesday.

About 3,500 National Guard troops from 22 states are currently assisting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in a mission along the southern border funded through September.

“Homeland Security, CBP, would like to continue [Department of Defense] DOD support,” Air Force Gen. Glenn VanHerck told reporters at the Pentagon. “There’s a request on the street to ask for additional support.”

VanHerck added that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “will make a risk assessment” to ultimately decide if Guardsmen will stay and continue the mission or return home.

Thousands of U.S. troops have been deployed to the southern border since late 2018, when the Trump administration sought to tout strengthened national security in the final week before the midterm elections.

At its height, more than 2,500 National Guardsmen and more than 5,800 active-duty troops were stationed along the border.

National Guard have been deployed to the border in the past, but the deployment of active-duty troops broke norms and only happened after then-President Trump declared a national emergency in 2019 to acquire funding to build a border wall. 

Lawmakers at the time worried the deployments would drain resources from the Pentagon budget and hurt troop readiness, and the Government Accountability Office has since found that the price tag of the deployment from 2018 to 2020 is at least at $841 million.

President Biden has since ended the national emergency, but the Pentagon does not have plans to end the deployment before the approved September end date.

The remaining 3,500 troops perform maintenance and repairs on CBP vehicles and also provide surveillance on the ground and with helicopters, VanHerck said. Any spotted attempts to cross the border are reported to CBP, with the Guardsmen uninvolved with apprehension or detention efforts, he added. 

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Lloyd Austin Mexico–United States border United States National Guard

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