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Tipsheet

Mattis to Troops at the Border: Ignore the Noise and Focus on Your Jobs

Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen made a trip to Texas to see firsthand how the U.S. service members are carrying out their mission to support the Department of Homeland Security in response to large numbers of migrants in caravans.

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During the visit, Mattis and Nielsen were able to talk with some of the troops.

“Generally, you and I deploy overseas so she doesn’t have problems in the homeland,” Mattis told a group of soldiers. “We go overseas, we to go Afghanistan, Iraq, and that sort of thing...but in this case we were asked by [Secretary Nielsen], due to the number of people coming this way, to back them up.”

He reiterated they were there in support of border patrol agents, in addition to being “a confidence builder.”

“Now, there's all sorts of stuff in the news,” Mattis continued. “You just concentrate on what your company commander, your battalion commander tells you because if you read all of that stuff, you know, you'll go nuts, you know what I mean."

“You know what your mission is here. You had to deploy on short notice to a non-traditional location. Do your jobs, you focus on doing that,” he added.

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“Loyalty only matters when there’s a hundred reasons not to be loyal,” Mattis said. “When it’s raining and you’re cold. It’s when you’re in a position where people are showing a lack of respect for each other elsewhere and you and your team are holding strong.”

After taking some questions, Mattis left the group by saying the rest of the country will look at how they treat each other.

“Now this country [has] never been perfect, ok, and we'll never accept 'we're good enough,' but the U.S. Army, the way you treat one another, the way we respect one another, you are an example for our entire country," he told them.

Both the Secretaries went on to talk to another group of soldiers in a school circle.

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While en route to Texas, Mattis defended the deployment from critics, who charge him and President Donald Trump with politicizing the military.

“Our units are in a position to enable the Border Patrol’s law enforcement operations. We determined that the mission was absolutely legal and this was also reviewed by Department of Justice lawyers. It's obviously a moral and ethical mission to support our border patrolmen," he told reporters.

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