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Lawmakers move to block the Pentagon's $1 billion transfer for Trump's border wall
Lawmakers moved to block the Department of Defense's move to transfer $1 billion for the construction of a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, the latest showdown in the battle over the border wall that President Trump has vowed to build.
On Monday, the Pentagon authorized the transfer of funds to Army engineers for projects along the border, which include building 57 miles of 18-foot-high fencing, constructing and improving roads, and installing lighting in support of Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol. The move was carried out under the president's declaration of a national emergency, the department said in a statement.
As Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan was testifying before his committee, Rep. Adam Smith, the Democrat who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, released a letter denying the Pentagon's move to reprogram $1 billion.
"The House Committee on Armed Services has competed its review of the proposed reprogramming request," Smith's letter read, according to a copy obtained by Military Times. "The committee denies this request."
In a more detailed statement, Smith called the Department of Defense's decision to reprogram $1 billion without Congressional approval a violation of trust. "DoD is attempting to circumvent Congress and the American people's opposition to using taxpayer money for the construction of an unnecessary wall."
Smith noted that the military is paying the price, referencing a recent request by the Marine Corps for additional funding to cover unexpected costs, which included hurricane relief and the troop deployments to the US-Mexico border, among other things.
"This needs to stop," Smith said, adding: "The administration should stop using our service members as a political tool and instead focus on building military capabilities and readiness in areas where we should focus our defense resources. Congress will act to defend its constitutional prerogatives."
Shanahan, who appeared before the House Armed Services Committee with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and Pentagon comptroller David Norquist, argued that "military construction on the border will not come at the expense of our people, our readiness, or our modernization."
As Smith warned that the Pentagon could lose its funding flexibility, specifically the department's reprogramming privileges, Shanahan said that the risks have been weighed and the Department of Defense understands the potential consequences.
Rep. Joe Courtney, a Connecticut Democrat, called this a "rubicon moment" for Congress and the Pentagon.
Read more from Business Insider:
- Defense Department redirects $1 billion to fund U.S.-Mexico border projects
- The Marine Corps' top general says Trump's deployments to U.S.-Mexico border are hurting combat readiness
- Trump's border wall may strip money from a $65 million water treatment plant at a Marine Corps base with a troubled history of contaminated water
- Snipers from around the world tested their skills at the Army special operations competition — here's who came out on top
- A top Democratic lawmaker has a big problem with Trump's plan for a 'Space Force'
SEE ALSO: Pentagon To Congress: Here's Every Project That Could Be Used To Fund Trump's Wall. Or Not. We Don't Even Know
WATCH NEXT: A Border Deployment In A Nutshell
13 Marines at Camp Pendleton charged with crimes related to smuggling of undocumented immigrants from Mexico
Thirteen Marines have been formally charged for their alleged roles in a human smuggling ring, according to a press release from 1st Marine Division released on Friday.
The Marines face military court proceedings on various charges, from "alleged transporting and/or conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants" to larceny, perjury, distribution of drugs, and failure to obey an order. "They remain innocent until proven guilty," said spokeswoman Maj. Kendra Motz.
The recruiting commercials for the Army Reserve proclaim "one weekend each month," but the real-life Army Reserve might as well say "hold my beer."
That's because the weekend "recruiting hook" — as it's called in a leaked document compiled by Army personnel for the new chief of staff — reveal that it's, well, kinda bullshit.
When they're not activated or deployed, most reservists and guardsmen spend one weekend a month on duty and two weeks a year training, according to the Army recruiting website. But that claim doesn't seem to square with reality.
"The Army Reserve is cashing in on uncompensated sacrifices of its Soldiers on a scale that must be in the tens of millions of dollars, and that is a violation of trust, stewardship, and the Army Values," one Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, who also complained that his battalion commander "demanded" that he be available at all times, told members of an Army Transition Team earlier this year.
According to an internal Army document, soldiers feel that the service's overwhelming focus on readiness is wearing down the force, and leading some unit leaders to fudge the truth on their unit's readiness.
"Soldiers in all three Army Components assess themselves and their unit as less ready to perform their wartime mission, despite an increased focus on readiness," reads the document, which was put together by the Army Transition Team for new Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and obtained by Task & Purpose. "The drive to attain the highest levels of readiness has led some unit leaders to inaccurately report readiness."
Lt. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, who served as the director of the transition team, said in the document's opening that though the surveys conducted are not scientific, the feedback "is honest and emblematic of the force as a whole taken from seven installations and over 400 respondents."
Those surveyed were asked to weigh in on four questions — one of which being what the Army isn't doing right. One of the themes that emerged from the answers is that "[r]eadiness demands are breaking the force."
The Army thinks China will surpass Russia by 2028. Here is how the service is planning to take them on.
If you've paid even the slightest bit of attention in the last few years, you know that the Pentagon has been zeroing in on the threat that China and Russia pose, and the future battles it anticipates.
The Army has followed suit, pushing to modernize its force to be ready for whatever comes its way. As part of its modernization, the Army adopted the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept, which serves as the Army's main war-fighting doctrine and lays the groundwork for how the force will fight near-peer threats like Russia and China across land, air, sea, cyber, and space.
But in an internal document obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army Transition Team for the new Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, argues that China poses a more immediate threat than Russia, so the Army needs make the Asia-Pacific region its priority while deploying "minimal current conventional forces" in Europe to deter Russia.
In leaked documents, Army family reports waiting weeks to have gas line and roof leaks fixed in on-base housing
As the saying goes, you recruit the soldier, but you retain the family.
And according to internal documents obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army still has substantial work to do in addressing families' concerns.