More than a year after troops first began deploying to the U.S.-Mexico border in support of a national emergency declared by President Trump, the Defense Department’s inspector general is going to take a look at how troops are being used and what the rotations have cost.
The project will look into the use of troops at the border, the training they’re getting, how they’re coordinating with civilian agencies on the ground and how much has been spent on the effort, according to a Dec. 10 memo.
“Based on several requests, we have decided to conduct an evaluation, in accord with our standard processes, to examine the use of military personnel along the southern border,” Glenn Fine, the principal deputy inspector general performing the duties of the inspector general, said in a statement. “In this evaluation, we will examine, among other issues, what they are doing at the border, what training they received, and whether their use complied with applicable law, DoD policy, and operating guidance. We intend to conduct this important evaluation as expeditiously as possible.”
As of July, there are about 5,000 troops, both active duty and National Guard, guarding sections of the border and helping Customs and Border Detection with surveillance and detention of migrants. In September, Defense Secretary Mark Esper authorized up to 5,500 at any given time through September 2020.
Early estimates pegged the cost of the deployments at more than $200 million, as of January, spent since October 2018.
Elsewhere, the Pentagon moved around more than $7 billion in funds, including some from personnel and military construction accounts, to fund border barriers.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.