The Pentagon will put up to 4,000 troops at the U.S. southern border with Mexico from this October through September 2021, a move that will decrease the overall number of troops there while extending the mission another year.
“Secretary [Mark] Esper has approved a request for assistance from the Department of Homeland Security and authorized the deployment of up to 4,000 DOD personnel to the southern border,” Pentagon spokesman Army Lieutenant Colonel Christian Mitchell said Thursday.
As of late April, the total number of U.S. military forces deployed to the border was about 5,000, according to the U.S. Northern Command. The military is running more than 200 mobile surveillance sites along the southern U.S. border, in addition to assisting U.S. Border Patrol agents with logistics and transportation.
“Military personnel will not directly participate in civilian law enforcement activities,” Mitchell said, adding that the bulk of the troops deployed would be National Guard members rather than active-duty troops.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump commemorated the 200th mile of border wall during a visit to the southwestern state of Arizona, describing the wall as “powerful and comprehensive.”
"Our border has never been more secure," Trump said.
White House correspondent Steve Herman contributed to this report.