It's Official: Mattis Is Keeping US Troops On The Border Through Christmas And New Year's

Bullet Points

The border mission with no name will continue past Christmas and through the end of January, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday.


  • “The Secretary of Defense has approved an extension of the ongoing Department of Defense support to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) response to migrant caravan arrivals,” Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said in an email. “DoD support to DHS is authorized until Jan. 31, 2109.”
  • Roughly 5,400 active-duty U.S. troops are currently assisting civil authorities on the southwestern border, but it was unclear on Tuesday how many would remain there during the holidays.
  • The Army three-star general in charge of the border mission told Politico earlier this month that he did not expect active-duty troops to be deployed beyond Dec. 15, but Defense Secretary Mattis subsequently said not all of the troops might be home for Christmas.
  • “Some of those troops certainly will be because we can anticipate based on how many miles of wire the engineers have to place when we think they’ll be done,” Mattis told reporters on Nov. 21. “But some troops may not be, or some new troops may be assigned to new missions. This is a dynamic situation.”
  • Launched in late October, the border mission came in response to thousands of Central American asylum seekers, mostly women and children, who were headed toward the United States via Mexico. President Trump has often claimed without providing evidence that the caravan of migrants includes hundreds of known criminals.
  • The Defense Department has estimated that the mission will cost $72 million by Dec. 15. “I am confident that number will go up,” Mattis told reporters at the Nov. 21 press event. “Now I'm on the record, I hope you all heard me.”

SEE ALSO: Trump Says US Troops Are ‘Proud’ To Spend Thanksgiving Deployed To The Border

WATCH NEXT:

Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.

Read More Show Less
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)

MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump claims the $6.1 billion from the Defense Department's budget that he will now spend on his border wall was not going to be used for anything "important."

Trump announced on Friday that he was declaring a national emergency, allowing him to tap into military funding to help pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Read More Show Less

Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."

"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."

First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.

"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."

Read More Show Less

D-Day veteran James McCue died a hero. About 500 strangers made sure of it.

"It's beautiful," Army Sgt. Pete Rooney said of the crowd that gathered in the cold and stood on the snow Thursday during McCue's burial. "I wish it happened for every veteran's funeral."

Read More Show Less