Troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border started to draw down in the second half of 2020, and that trend is expected to continue for 2021.
It’s been nearly three years since President Donald Trump first ordered more than 5,000 active duty and reserve component troops down to the southern border to help out Customs and Border Protection, but at last count, that number was down about a third.
As of Dec. 16 3,600 National Guard and reserve troops are stationed at the border, with a cap of 4,000 issued in June, Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Christian Mitchell confirmed to Military Times.
The drop in numbers of troops at the border has coincided with what is expected to be the end of the Pentagon’s funding contributions to building the border wall.
The Defense Department in February shifted $3.8 bill from its acquisitions budget, clarifying that the more than $10 billion it chipped in for border barriers through 2019 and 2020 should be enough, along with Homeland Security Department funding, to complete the originally planned 722 miles of fencing.
“I don’t have anything specific, but it’s clear that we’ll be meeting the requirements that have been identified by the president to accelerate and build the border barrier as quickly and effectively as possible,” Bob Salesses. the deputy assistant defense secretary for homeland defense integration, said at the time.
So far, the Army Corps of Engineers has awarded roughly $9 billion in contracts to build more than 380 miles of wall in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.