The Pentagon’s inspector general has started to evaluate the legality of the Trump administration’s use of thousands of troops on US border.
More than a year after troops on US border first began deploying in the backing of a national emergency declared by President Trump, the Defense Department’s inspector general is going to take a look at how troops are being managed and what the rotations have cost.
In a memo wrote to top military and civilian officials at the Pentagon, Fine told the scope of the evaluation will include but is not limited to, the real use of US military personnel in support of security operations at the border including “training provided to US military personnel, including training on potential connections with civilians and the amount of funding to back deployment to the border,” and “whether the actual use of those funds comply with applicable federal law and DoD policy.”
In a Tuesday memo titled “Evaluation of the US Military Support of Security Operations at the US Southern Border,” the US government watchdog overseeing the Pentagon said that the investigation will cover the “actual use of US military personnel in support of security operations at the US southern border; the training provided to US military potential, including training on potential contacts with civilians; US military personnel coordination and interaction with Department of Homeland Security personnel at the US southern border; and the amount of funding to support the US military deployment to the southern border.”
President Donald Trump first deployed National Guard troops on US border in April 2018. Then, in October 2018, more than 5,000 active-duty forces were sent to increase support to the Department of Homeland Security.
As of July, there are about 5,000 troops, both active duty and National Guard, guarding sections of the border and helping Customs and Border Detection with surveillance and detention of migrants. In September, Defense Secretary Mark Esper authorized up to 5,500 at any given time through September 2020.
Early estimates pegged the cost of the deployments at more than $200 million, as of January, spent since October 2018. Elsewhere, the Pentagon moved around more than $7 billion in funds, including some from personnel and military construction accounts, to fund border barriers.
Richard Spencer, whom Esper fired as Navy secretary, boosted the deployment by 1,100 active-duty troops and 1,000 National Guardsmen in July during his brief stint as acting Defense secretary, bringing the force to 6,600 troops in total, including 3,600 active-duty troops. Esper’s September extension into 2020 covered 5,500 troops.