Trump’s raid on military construction funds for his border wall will screw over critical Air Force projects, report says
The Trump administration's September move to reprogram $3.6 billion in Defense Department funding for military construction projects to erect a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border will impact 51 specific Air Force projects
An Air Force assessment indicates that the Trump administration's decision to reroute funding from dozens of the service's planned military construction projects “poses various national security risks for the U.S. armed forces,” NBC News reports.
The internal report, obtained by NBC News on Friday, details how the Trump administration's September move to reprogram $3.6 billion in Defense Department funding for military construction projects to erect a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border impacts 51 specific Air Force projects out of 127 identified by the Pentagon.
Those projects include repairs and replacements that the service deemed critical to addressing safety and security concerns at various installations around the world, per NBC News, including:
- An entry control point at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey at which the main gate is “degrading and not properly configured to provide proper protection for pedestrian and vehicle passage” among an increase in security breaches following the start of U.S. military operations against ISIS in neighboring Syria in 2014.
- New facilities at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam for the storage of more than $1 billion in munitions, one of the largest stockpiles in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command's area of responsibility.
- Critical repairs for boiler at Eielsen Air Force Base in Alaska that provides all electricity and heat for the base, the failure of which would “bee devastating to facilities and the missions housed by them within hours.”
The Air Force is the second service branch to raise issues internally with President Donald Trump's February national emergency declaration, which allowed the commander-in-chief to bypass Congress and obtain funds for the border wall that was the central pillar of his presidential campaign.
In March, a pair of internal memos authored by then-Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and obtained by the Los Angeles Times indicated that the “unplanned/unbudgeted” deployment of Marine Corps personnel to the U.S.-Mexico border posed an “unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency.
As Task & Purpose previously reported, the Trump administration is diverting funding from a total of 127 projects both in the U.S. and overseas, including $400 million form 10 projects related to Hurricane Maria recovery and more than $700 million in projects meant to help deter Russia in Europe.
When reached for comment, Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek reassured NBC News that “these projects are still very important, and we continue to be committed to our allies and partners.”
But speaking to reporters following his February emergency declaration, Trump had claimed that the billions in funding he planned on diverting from the Pentagon budget wasn't going to be used for anything “important” anyway.
“We had certain funds that are being used at the discretion of generals, at the discretion of the military,” Trump said at the time. “Some of them haven't been allocated yet, and some of the generals think that this is more important.”
“I was speaking to a couple of them. They think this is far more important than what they were going to use it for,” he added. “I said, 'What are you going to use it for?' And I won't go into details, but it didn't sound too important to me.”