About 160 soldiers deployed along the U.S.-Mexico border are forming crisis response teams at two points of entry, the Defense Department announced Friday.
Members of the 687th Engineer Construction Company and the 519th Military Police Battalion, both based at Fort Polk, Louisiana, will move to San Ysidro, California, and El Paso, Texas, to assist Customs and Border Patrol, according to a release.
There they will “emplace temporary barriers to restrict access through ports of entry and provide force protection for CBP personnel as they perform their federal functions,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christian Mitchell said in a statement.
The soldiers are part of the roughly 5,000 active-duty and National Guard troops who have been rotating to the southern border since late 2018, in response to President Trump’s declaration of emergency due to the flow of migrants illegally crossing the border.
The Texas National Guard will also send members of the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade to Brownsville, Texas, for quick reaction force training, Mitchell said.
Officials have said that border deployments are necessary to help CBP plug holes along the U.S.-Mexico border, but that as more DoD- and Homeland Security Department-funded border barriers go up, there will be less need for boots on the ground to secure the areas.
The Pentagon announced in February that it would be chipping in $3.8 billion to border wall construction this year, in addition to more than $6 billion contributed last year.
Officials have no made any announcements about troop reductions.
“We will take a look, but I have not seen a conversation whether that’s going to be an up or down at this point,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told Military Times in February.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.