Up to 5,500 US troops will keep deploying to the southwest border through September 2020

U.S. Marines Work On The US-Mexico Border Wall

The U.S. military's seemingly never-ending mission supporting civil authorities along the southwestern border will last at least another year.

On Sept. 3, Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to provide a total of up to 5,500 troops along the border until Sept. 30, 2020, Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Army North, said on Monday.

Those troops will be a combination of National Guard and active-duty service members, Richardson told reporters during the Association of the United States Army's annual exposition in Washington, D.C.

Richardson said she did not have an estimate for how much the deployments to the border will cost through the end of next September. Once Congress passes a fiscal 2020 defense spending bill, the Pentagon will foot the bill for the continuing border mission.

U.S. troops began deploying to the border last October after President Donald Trump claimed without evidence that a human caravan of Central American asylum seekers contained hundreds of criminals, who wanted to invade the United States.

That November, then-commander of U.S. Army North Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan indicated that the military's mission at the U.S./Mexico border could be over by Christmas, but it has been extended since then.

Stopping immigrants and asylum seekers from entering the United States has been a major priority for the president, who reportedly wanted a snake-filled moat dug along the southern border. Trump has denied wanting such a moat.

But on Nov. 1, 2018, the president told reporters that he wanted U.S. troops to respond to any asylum seekers who threw rocks at them as if they were under fire.

"We will consider that the maximum that we can consider that, because they're throwing rocks viciously and violently," Trump said. "You saw that three days ago — really hurting the military. We're not going to put up with that. They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. We're going to consider it — I told them: Consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I said: Consider it a rifle."

Later that month, then-Defense Secretary James Mattis assured reporters that U.S. troops assisting the border patrol would not be armed. When Task & Purpose asked Mattis what steps the Pentagon was taking to make sure active-duty troops did not shoot anyone — as happened in 1997 — Mattis was dismissive.

"I'm not going to dignify that," Mattis said on Nov. 21. "They're not even carrying guns for Christ's sake."

It didn't take long for a central theme to emerge at the funeral of U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Livermore, an event attended by hundreds of area residents Friday at Union Cemetery in Bakersfield.

It's a theme that stems from a widespread local belief that the men and women who have served in the nation's armed forces are held in particularly high esteem here in the southern valley.

"In Bakersfield and Kern County, we celebrate our veterans like no place else on Earth," Bakersfield Chief of Police Lyle Martin told the gathering of mourners.

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An Air Force Special Tactics combat controller that "delivered thousands of pounds of munition" during a close-range 2007 firefight in Afghanistan was awarded the Silver Star on Friday.

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ROCKFORD — Delta Force sniper Sgt. First Class James P. McMahon's face was so badly battered and cut, "he looked like he was wearing a fright mask" as he stood atop a downed Black Hawk helicopter and pulled free the body of a fellow soldier from the wreckage.

That's the first description of McMahon in the book by journalist Mark Bowden called "Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War." It is a detailed account of the horrific Battle of the Black Sea fought in the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993. It claimed the lives of 18 elite American soldiers.

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The July arrests of 16 Camp Pendleton Marines in front of their 800-person battalion was unlawful and a violation of their rights, a Marine Corps judge ruled Friday.

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Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher will retire as a chief petty officer now that President Donald Trump has restored his rank.

"Before the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor," a White House statement said.

"Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. Given his service to our Nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified."

The announcement that Gallagher is once again an E-7 effectively nullifies the Navy's entire effort to prosecute Gallagher for allegedly committing war crimes. It is also the culmination of Trump's support for the SEAL throughout the legal process.

On July 2, military jurors found Gallagher not guilty of premeditated murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a wounded ISIS fighter to death and opening fire at an old man and a young girl on separate occasions during his 2017 deployment to Iraq.

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