It seems like only yesterday that 5,800 active-duty service members were racing to the Southwest border to stop a migrant caravan from entering the United States, but it was actually about three weeks ago, right before the midterm elections.
Now, their mission presumably on the verge of being accomplished, the troops are finally coming home — and just in time for Christmas.
That's according to Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the commander of U.S. Army North, who is helming the operation from San Antonio, Texas. "Our end date right now is 15 December, and I've got no indications from anybody that we'll go beyond that," Buchanan told Politico on Nov. 19.
San Antonio is a fitting locale for mission headquarters. In 1836, the city saw Mexican forces under the command of President General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna lay waste to a ragtag outfit of Texians in the infamous Battle of the Alamo.
Fortunately, this time it didn't come to that. Instead, the invading force — approximately 7,000 refugees advancing by foot from the depths of Central America — opted for one of the oldest plays in the book: the switcharoo.
No sooner had the bulk of Buchanan's army arrived in Texas to bolster the Border Patrol agents and National Guard units holding the line along the Rio Grande Valley than the caravan changed course, swerving toward the California border.
Thousands of asylum-seekers have already started to arrive in Tijuana, prompting hundreds of locals to spill into the streets with chants of "Mexico first!" One 62-year-old protester told National Public Radio, "We want the caravan to go; they are invading us."
Tijuana borders San Diego, where many of the refugees hope to go. However, of the 5,800 active duty soldiers and Marines currently deployed to the border, only 1,300 are in California. And based on Buchanan's comments, it seems they, too, may be preparing to decamp soon.
According to Politico, the general explained that "the troop deployment should start falling rapidly as engineer and logistics troops ... wind down their mission of building base camps and fortifying ports of entry for the Border Patrol."
Buchanan also clarified why the Pentagon had declined a request from the Department of Homeland Security to back up its personnel if shit went down at the border.
"That is a law enforcement task, and the secretary of defense does not have the authority to approve that inside the homeland," he said.
U.S. Army North and the Office of the Secretary of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(From left to right) Chris Osman, Chris McKinley, Kent Kroeker, and Talon Burton
At least four American veterans were among a group of eight men arrested by police in Haiti earlier this week for driving without license plates and possessing an arsenal of weaponry and tactical gear.
Police in Port-au-Prince arrested five Americans, two Serbians, and one Haitian man at a police checkpoint on Sunday, according to The Miami-Herald. The men told police they were on a "government mission" but did not specify for which government, according to The Herald.
They also told police that "their boss was going to call their boss," implying that someone high in Haiti's government would vouch for them and secure their release, Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles told NPR.
What they were actually doing or who they were potentially working for remains unclear. A State Department spokesperson told Task & Purpose they were aware that Haitian police arrested a "group of individuals, including some U.S. citizens," but declined to answer whether the men were employed by or operating under contract with the U.S. government.
A photo shared by Hoda Muthana on her now-closed @ZumarulJannaTwitter account. (Twitter/ZumarulJannah)
The State Department announced Wednesday that notorious ISIS bride Hoda Muthana, a U.S.-born woman who left Alabama to join ISIS but began begging to return to the U.S. after recently deserting the terror group, is not a U.S. citizen and will not be allowed to return home.
A top Senate Republican and fierce ally of President Donald Trump reportedly exploded at Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently about the U.S. military's plans to withdraw all troops from Syria by the end of April.
"That's the dumbest f******g idea I've ever heard," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reportedly replied when Shanahan confirmed the Trump administration still plans to complete the Syria withdrawal by April 30.
Later, Graham told Shanahan, "I am now your adversary, not your friend."