When a reporter asked if the troop deployment to the southern border was a political ploy, Defense Secretary James Mattis was blunt:
“We don’t do stunts in this department. Thank you,” Mattis told a reporter who posed the question after a Pentagon meeting with Mattis’ South Korean counterpart. The defense secretary added the deployment was to provide “practical support” to the Department of Homeland Security and was based on a request from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The deployment is in response to the approach of a caravan containing an estimated 4,000 Central American migrants. The Pentagon said late Wednesday that it had identified 7,000 who will be participating in the mission at the border. Approximately 2,000 National Guard members previously have been dispatched to the frontier over the past six months.