President Donald Trump’s directive that active-duty troops are deployed to the southern border with Mexico in order to reinforce border personnel readying for the arrival of the Central American caravan will cost U.S. taxpayers about $72 million, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.
It noted that the price tag covers the cost of deploying the approximately 5,900 active duty troops until December 15 and that should troops be deployed longer the cost would increase.
President Trump has said that he will deploy up to 15,000 troops in an effort to prevent a group of migrants from illegally entering the country and asking for asylum. On Tuesday, the President stressed that the troops were “proud to be on the border” where they are “defending our nation” and “not letting people in.”
Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning issued a statement saying that “based on the current phased force laydown of approximately 5,900 Active Component personnel through December 15, 2018, the estimated cost to deploy, operate, sustain, and redeploy forces is approximately $72 million,” adding that the estimate included “only those DoD forces and support requested and approved as of 19 November 2018.”
Out of the total $72 million, $19 million is for personnel costs, $20 million to cover transportation costs, $28 million is for “operating expenses” and $5 million is for border fortification and barrier material. The spokesman said that thousands of meters of wire obstacles had been placed in Texas, Arizona and California.
However, the Pentagon said that the estimate does not cover the cost of the National Guard deployment previously ordered by the President to help protect the U.S.-Mexico border. That deployment, which includes 2,100 National Guard personnel, as well as 17 aircraft, is estimated at $138 million to date.
The border mission is to end on December 15, but some military officials have indicated troops involved in building bases and other infrastructure could be coming home before that.