U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jente Brothers, assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 7, stands on a forklift that is being used to fortify fencing along the Calexico West Port of Entry in Calexico, California on Nov. 17, 2018.

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jente Brothers, assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 7, stands on a forklift that is being used to fortify fencing along the Calexico West Port of Entry in Calexico, California on Nov. 17, 2018. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Nyatan Bol

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Pentagon Watchdog to Review Military’s Border Support Mission, Spending

The Defense inspector general plans to evaluate training and deployment costs, and whether funding meets legal and policy standards.

Under orders from President Trump, the Pentagon has deployed several thousand troops to the southwest border to support the Homeland Security Department’s efforts to stem the flow of immigrants crossing the border illegally. What training have those troops received for the mission? How much have the deployments cost? Those are among the questions the Pentagon watchdog intends to answer in an “evaluation” announced this week.

In a memo to department leaders and senior service officials, acting Defense Inspector General Glenn Fine said the scope of the review would include, but not be limited to: the use of military personnel in support of security operations; training provided to troops on potential contacts with civilians; coordination and interaction between troops and Homeland Security personnel; and funding issues—both the amount of money spent on deployments to the border and “whether the actual use of those funds comply with applicable federal law and DoD policy.”

In July, the Pentagon announced it was sending more than 2,000 new troops to the southwest border, after previously deploying several thousand troops in October 2018 for what it called Operation Faithful Patriot. The cost of those deployments is unclear 

The IG’s announcement coincides with Tuesday’s ruling by a federal judge in Texas blocking the Pentagon from using $3.6 billion in military construction funds to build a border wall. As National Public Radio explained: 

U.S. District Judge David Briones of El Paso ruled that the administration's use of an emergency proclamation last February to divert those funds to the border wall is unlawful. The ruling found that the administration was within the law in using an additional $2.5 billion intended for drug interdiction efforts for border wall construction.