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US Withdraws Troops From Border        12/11 06:21

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. this week will begin withdrawing many of the 
active duty troops sent to the border with Mexico by President Donald Trump 
just before the midterm election in response to a caravan of Central American 
migrants, U.S. officials said Monday.

   About 2,200 of the active duty troops will be pulled out before the 
holidays, the officials said, shrinking an unusual domestic deployment that was 
viewed by critics as a political stunt and a waste of military resources.

   That will leave about 3,000 active duty troops in Texas, Arizona and 
California, mainly comprised of military police and helicopter transport crews 
who are assisting border patrol agents. There also will still be about 2,300 
members of the National Guard who were sent to the border region as part of a 
separate deployment that started in April.

   The active duty troops, numbering about 5,200 as of Monday, were initially 
scheduled to stay until Dec. 15. Late last month, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis 
extended the mission to the end of January at the request of the Department of 
Homeland Security. It's unclear if it will be extended again.

   The U.S. forces have installed vast amounts of razor wire and provided 
transportation and protection for the Border Patrol. The troops are not there 
to directly deal with the Central American migrants, many of whom eventually 
made their way to Tijuana, just south of California.

   One of the officials said that some of the military police and helicopter 
crews will stay in the border region so they can quickly respond if they are 
needed by border agents. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to 
discuss internal plans not yet made public.

   Active duty troops began arriving at the border in early November for an 
initial 45-day deployment, in response to the caravan, which at one point 
numbered about 7,000 people, including many families with children.

   On Monday, Col. Rob Manning said there are currently 2,200 active duty 
troops in Texas; 1,350 in Arizona; and 1,650 in California.

   "Some units have completed their mission and they have already started to 
partially redeploy. Other units have been identified to rotate home and will be 
returning home over the next several weeks," Manning said.

   He declined to say how low the number of troops will go in coming weeks or 
provide details on any changes. He added, "the numbers of troops that we have 
will be commensurate with the support" that Homeland Security and Customs and 
Border Protection request.

   Headquarters forces for U.S. Army North will remain in Texas, and the troops 
in California and Arizona include engineers, military police, logisticians, 
aviation personnel and medical personnel.

   The bulk of the active duty troops in California are Marines based at Camp 
Pendleton, near San Diego, so many can easily move back and forth from the 
border to their home base.

   A report to Congress last month estimated the cost of the military 
deployment to the border at $210 million, including $72 million for the 
active-duty troops and $138 million so far for the National Guard forces. The 
Guard troops have been performing their separate border mission since April. 
There have been no updated estimates released.


(KA)

 
 
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