Troops to remain on border through September for surveillance, detection mission
By ROSE L. THAYER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 14, 2019
Active-duty U.S. troops, expected to conclude their support mission on the Mexican border this month, will remain through September on a mobile surveillance and detection mission, Defense Department officials announced late Monday.
Homeland Security officials requested the extension Dec. 27 and it was approved by Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan. In addition to the new mission, troops will begin placing concertina wire between ports of entry and continue to provide aviation support.
Monday’s announcement did not include the number of troops needed to conduct this mission or when new deployments will begin. It also did not include cost estimates.
An existing agreement between the two departments has about 2,350 active-duty servicemembers stationed within three states bordering Mexico to support Border Patrol agents, said Col. Cathy Wilkinson, public affairs director for U.S. Army North, last week.
Servicemembers from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines arrived at the border Oct. 31 and were expected to leave by the end of January.
About 600 troops are in Texas, 650 are in Arizona and 1,100 in California. The force deployed to the border peaked at 5,900 servicemembers in mid-November.
Military engineers have already placed coiled razor wire along about 70 miles at ports of entry, U.S. Northern Command said in late December. It has oversight of the joint military mission.
Military helicopter pilots have flown more than 740 hours. Military police units have conducted more than 10,000 hours of unit training and combined rehearsals with Border Patrol in all three states.
About 2,270 National Guard members are also serving along the border in four states to support the Border Patrol in a separate mission. Early estimates of these combined support efforts were expected to cost around $72 million.