President Donald Trump may extend the deployment of thousands of active-duty troops at the U.S.-Mexico border into January, two Pentagon officials told NPR on Wednesday.
Trump earlier this month ordered 5,900 active-duty troops and 2,100 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to support Customs and Border Protection agents in anticipation of the arriving caravan.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, arriving at border earlier this month said, “I think that it’s very clear that support (for) the border police — or Border Patrol is necessary right now.” Before Thanksgiving, Mattis told reporters any deployment extension would be “mission-dependent, situation-dependent if they need to be extended.”
He added: “[S]ome of those troops certainly will be home, I would anticipate they would be. But some troops may not be or some new troops may be assigned to new missions. But this is a dynamic situation.”
A top Army commander said last week all of the active-duty personnel would be home for Christmas.
“Our end date right now is 15 December,” Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, who oversees the mission on the southern border, told Politico. “I’ve got no indications from anybody that we’ll go beyond that.”
Pentagon officials said no final decision on an extended deployment has been made. The officials suggested that part of the deployment force would switch with newly-arrived troops, should the deadline extend into January.