Depending on what side of the political aisle one resides, the decision by President Donald Trump to send over 5200 troops to the border is either a political move to influence the midterm elections, according to the left. Or a needed operation to bolster and harden our points of entry to the United States at key border crossing points according to the right.
It is a sticky situation politically and in the end, there is probably elements of truth in both sides’ arguments.
Whether you believe one side or the other, for now, the troops are moving and they are, mostly support troops, combat engineers and aviation assets. Again, regardless of what politicians from either the right or left are saying, there IS a caravan of up to 7000 people from Central America streaming to the U.S. border. Is this caravan of aliens a threat to national security or are they just trying to go thru the normal asylum process?
“We’ve got to be prepared for the potential arrival of a very large group,” Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), said on Monday. “Because of the size, we want to be able to handle it effectively and safely.”
And this deployment will cause a headache for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as he’s been actively trying to distance himself and his people in the Defense Department from the extremist politics that have already engulfed the FBI and CIA since the Trump Administration took office. Mattis was probably hoping that the president would send more National Guard troops to the border.
In an era where the services are having issues meeting recruiting quotas, having active-duty troops involved in an increasingly political hot potato will not help their recruiting efforts. In the worst case scenario, if thousands of illegal aliens attempt to storm the border as they have done in Guatemala when trying to cross from Honduras, having thousands of military troops as rear-echelon support, will free up many more Border Patrol and Homeland Security agents to deal with any situation.
While officials at the Pentagon are mainly deflecting questions to just the nuts and bolts of the deployment to the four main border crossing areas located in Brownsville, Texas, McAllen, Texas, Nogales, Arizona, and San Ysidro just outside San Diego.
McAllen would probably be the first and closest entry point for the alien mass exodus of Central Americans which is actually three caravans rather than just one. While many are walking, they are also getting rides from flatbed trucks and semi tractor-trailer rigs. They are currently about 850 miles from the border.
However, due to the Rio Grande area around Brownsville which separates Texas and Mexico and the San Ysidro area outside San Diego are areas where not only are vast amounts of illegal aliens crossing but criminal gangs are operating there as well.
President Trump has frequently said that these large caravans can hold not only MS-13 criminal gang members but terrorists from the Middle East. That thought has been pooh-poohed by many in the mainstream media and several of the more liberal think tank members. One called it a “craven political stunt by President Trump ahead of the U.S. midterm elections…”
However, reports out Guatemala seem to support the President’s suggestion. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales stated during a recent security conference attended by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as the presidents of Honduras and El Salvador and other Latin American dignitaries that terrorists and gang members are among the caravan.
Morales said Guatemalan security forces have captured “close to 100 persons completely involved with terrorists, with ISIS, and we have not only detained them within our territory, but they have been deported to their country of origin.” He stated that several of the terrorists were Syrians caught with fake documents, according to Guatemala’s head of intelligence. President Morales also revealed that Guatemalan authorities captured more than 1,000 gangsters, including members of MS-13, trying to enter the country from Honduras.
Others in the Department of Homeland Security seem to back up this line of thinking. They released a statement that said that there are individuals within the caravan who are gang members or have significant criminal histories. Citizens of countries outside Central America, including countries in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and elsewhere, are currently traveling through Mexico toward the U.S.
The active-duty troops would bolster the already 2200 National Guard troops along the border. The engineers will no doubt be aiding in the construction of additional border security measures as stringing concertina wire and Jersey type barriers. They’d also set up temporary housing facilities for aliens who actually are going to do things the legal way and apply for asylum, as well as detainees before they are sent back.
The helicopter crews will be there to shuttle Customs and Border Patrol officers to places needed at the border where illegals planning on crossing in large numbers as a quick reaction force. The active-duty troops, Secretary Mattis described their upcoming mission as “defense support for civilian authorities”. And it is important to recognize that.
Under the Posse Comitatus Act, the President can’t use the military in a law enforcement role inside the United States. There are exceptions, however. Back in the late 80s-early 90s, Special Operations troops augmented Border Patrol and Homeland Security forces in combatting the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S. and later their responsibilities were augmented with an anti-terrorist mission. That unit was called JTF-6 and later JTF-North.
The cost of sending these troops to the border area is slated to cost in the neighborhood of $50 million dollars if the numbers don’t increase and they are finished with their deployment by December which is the goal. While many called for more National Guard troops mobilized rather than the active-duty component, it is actually more expensive to mobilize the NG troops since other factors come to light as they’ll have to be paid extra pay and benefits and the speed that the active-duty troops can deploy makes it more attractive to the Pentagon planners.
The troops will most certainly be hearing about their rules of engagement ad nauseam. However, according to the Pentagon, they will deploy with a mixture of lethal and nonlethal weapons and are authorized to use deadly force in defense of “all persons, foreign or domestic, who are faced with imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm, and where lesser means have failed or cannot be reasonably employed.”
The bottom line is the government can’t just allow thousands of illegal aliens to just flood our southern border. But from there things get tricky. Because the caravan at the Guatemalan border and again at the border of Mexico got into violent confrontations with police forces when they attempted to slow or stop the movement.
How will the government opt to stop this group? It is anyone’s guess, but we all need to pay very close attention to what is happening because, like everything else, we have to read between the lines of political rhetoric.