Trump Defense chief blocked idea to send 250,000 troops to border: report

Former Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back Former defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Major Russia weapons test stokes tensions MORE blocked an idea to send approximately 250,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border last year, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The troops would have consisted of over half of the active U.S. Army and a sixth of all American forces, the newspaper noted.

Stephen MillerStephen MillerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to tackle omicron risks with new travel rules Midterms are coming: Will we get answers on Jan. 6 before it's too late? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP dealt 2022 blow, stares down Trump-era troubles MORE, a senior adviser to then-President TrumpDonald TrumpMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 Trump endorses David Perdue in Georgia's governor race MORE, urged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a plan for sending troops to the border, the newspaper reported. The idea was then relayed to the Defense Department’s Northern Command, which handles military operations in the U.S. and along its borders.

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Esper was reportedly enraged by the plan and felt that deploying that many troops would undermine the nation’s military readiness in other parts of the world, people familiar with the conversation told the newspaper.

The Defense chief ended conversations about the deployment after a confrontation with Miller in the Oval Office.

The idea was never officially presented to Trump, who regularly focused on securing the U.S.-Mexico border and curbing illegal immigration during his presidency. However, the newspaper noted that it was brought up in White House meetings on closing the border against illegal immigration.

Esper and Miller both declined to comment to the Times about the deployment idea.

Thousands of troops were deployed to the southern border under the Trump administration.

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In 2018, the administration sent roughly 5,800 troops to the border ahead of an expected caravan of Central American migrants.

That mission was supposed to end in October, but DHS asked the Pentagon in May to extend the mission through fiscal 2022. At the time, 4,000 troops were approved to be stationed at the border.

The Pentagon extended the mission, approving an authorization for up to 3,000 personnel, Pentagon press secretary John KirbyJohn KirbyOvernight Defense & National Security — Preparing for the Biden-Putin call Five things to know about Russia's troop buildup near Ukraine  Pentagon chief holds high-level meeting on situation in Ukraine, Russia MORE said in July.