Troops stationed along the U.S.-Mexico border won’t be going home in time for Thanksgiving, so the Defense Logistics Agency is bringing the turkey to them.
There are still more than 5,800 active duty and 2,100 National Guard troops deployed to lay concertina wire and barriers in support of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. Even though they are in the U.S., those forces won’t be joining their families for the holiday. Instead, they will be treated like units deployed overseas and served DLA-provided turkey meals on Thanksgiving.
“DLA sent more than 300,000 pounds of traditional Thanksgiving food to field kitchens, dining facilities and galleys throughout the Middle East, Europe, Africa and even to those here at home in Texas and Arizona,” the agency said in a press release.
News that the border troops would be eating military shipped turkeys brought forceful responses on social media from both sides of the issue.
Some Twitter respondents argued that what the troops really needed was to be sent home, and others wondered whether the estimated 14,000 unaccompanied migrant children now housed in U.S. facilities — minors who crossed illegally into the U.S. by themselves and are now either in the temporary custody of Customs and Border Protection or handed off to one of several major shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services — would see similar support.
A U.S. official familiar with the Customs and Border Protection facilities said those minors are getting holiday treatment.
“We don’t have a mandate, mission or money for any of this,” the official said, specifying getting holiday food and gifts. “But they will have Thanksgiving, and they will have Christmas.”
For the troops, DLA’s list of shipped foodstuffs to forces worldwide, including those at the border, includes 9,738 whole turkeys, 51,234 pounds of roasted turkey, 74,036 pounds of beef, 21,758 pounds of ham, 67,860 pounds of shrimp, 16,284 pounds of sweet potatoes, 81,360 pies, 19,284 cakes and 7,836 gallons of eggnog.
For one border crossing in Texas, Camp Donna, DLA has shipped thousands of pounds of food, even though those troops have completed the tasks assigned to them, and there was a possibility some could have returned to their families for Thanksgiving. The Camp Donna shipment includes 12 cases of asparagus, 21 cases of corn, 799 pounds of turkey, 144 pounds of shrimp, 22 cases of dinner rolls and 7 cases of cookies.
Tara Copp is the Pentagon Bureau Chief for Military Times and author of the award-winning military nonfiction "The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story."