Defense Secretary James Mattis give permission to the National Guard troops deployed to the southwest border to stay there for another year, the Pentagon confirmed Friday.
Mattis accepted to give a 12-month extension of the current deployment order, which authorizes up to 4,000 guardsmen to support U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents until Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.
The extension allows the same deployment through Sept. 30, 2019, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jamie Davis told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“It’s the same mission, the same setup,” Davis said.
The border deployment, unofficially called Operation Guardian Support, eliminated April 13 in response to President Donald Trump’s call to use the military to guard against rising illegal immigration. A joint operation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the mission strives to provide surveillance and logistical support to border agents, freeing them up to interdict drug and human smuggling.
At the moment, there are about 2,200 National Guard soldiers deployed to the four states along the southwest border, Davis said. There are 1,145 soldiers in Texas, 115 in New Mexico, 580 in Arizona and 360 in California.
The border states, in order to help to the majority of the guardsmen deployed with Guardian Support, while several other states are providing aviation assets. Other states are taking part in the mission as of June were Missouri, Indiana, Maine, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida, reports Stars and Stripes.
It’s still not clear how the Pentagon will finance a border deployment in the next fiscal year. For the current deployment, Congress asserted reprogramming requests that allow the Pentagon to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars from the Army’s general account to its personnel account for the National Guard.
The same funding mechanism is very likely to be used in FY2019, Davis said.