Over 5,200 troops will be sent to the U.S-Mexico border by the end of the week, the Defense Department announced Monday.
“By the end of this week will we deploy over 5,200 soldiers to the southwest border. That is just the start of this operation; we’ll continue to adjust the numbers and inform you of those,” U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command head General Terrence O’Shaughnessy told reporters.
The active duty troops will be sent as part of the Operation Faithful Patriot in order to “build up southern Texas, and then Arizona, and then California…to harden the points of entry and address key gaps in areas around the points of entry,” the general added.
They will support the thousands of border patrol agents already there as part of Operation Secure Line and will be deployed in addition to those sent to the border in April as part of Operation Guardian Support.
The move comes after President Donald Trump ordered the military to send troops to the southern border in response to the large migrant caravan moving north from Honduras toward the United States. As a result, the Department of Homeland Security sent a request to the Defense Department for more troops, which was approved by Defense Secretary James Mattis on Friday.
O’Shaughnessy said the active duty troops would “enhance the capacity and capabilities of [Customs and Border Protection],” adding that there were about 800 armed soldiers on their way to Texas at that moment.
“We have the authority, given to us by Secretary Mattis — the units that are normally assigned weapons, they are, in fact, deploying with weapons,” he said.
Asked why the President feels these troops need to be sent to the border, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “The President’s number one job and number one priority is to protect the safety and security of Americans and he’s going to do what he deems necessary to in order to do that.”