Speaking with reporters during an off-camera press gaggle at the Pentagon on Tuesday, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said there will be an increase of active-duty service members along the U.S-Mexico border.
The news comes as Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has been vocally opposed to the border deployment. Shanahan said he has had multiple conversations with the congressman about the topic.
“Our activity to date has really been, you know, logistics, medical. Some, I'd call it construction, but the laying — the installation of the concertina wire,” Shanahan explained, according to the DOD transcript. “Then there's what I would consider, you know, more of a traditional capability of monitoring, surveilling and detecting. So this is the enhanced capability that we provide to DHS.”
Shanahan pointed out how the increase and the extension of the deployment has been at the request of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“Most recently, DHS has asked us to support them in additional concertina wire, and then expanded surveillance capability. And we've responded with, you know, ‘Here's how many people it would take’, and this is the timing we'd be able — timing and mix of the people to support that,” he said.
When asked how many more troops will be deployed, Shanahan did not give an exact number: “Several thousand. I'll leave it at that number.”
After the briefing, DOD spokesman Lt. Col. Jamie Davis released a statement providing more detail on the deployment.
"As the Acting Secretary said, we are supporting our federal partners on the border and that mission has been extended until September,” Davis said. “We are currently sourcing the units involved and there will be an increase of a few thousand troops. We will provide more clarity on the numbers when we have it."
The active-duty members of the military were first sent to the border last October in response to the multiple, large caravans, which originated in Central America, that made their way towards the United States.