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.
In a not-so-veiled threat to the Taliban, President Donald Trump argued on Monday the United States has the capacity to bring a swift end to the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan, but he is seeking a different solution to avoid killing "10 million people."
"I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth," Trump said on Monday at the White House. "It would be gone. It would be over in – literally in 10 days. And I don't want to do that. I don't want to go that route."
The seizure of a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is the latest example of how tensions between the U.S. and Iran have spilled into one of the world's most strategic and vital waterways for oil. Since May, Iran has been accused of harassing and attacking oil tankers in the strait.
As the British government continues to investigate Friday's seizure, experts worry that it raises the potential of a military clash. However, they also say it offers a lens into Iran's strategy toward the U.S.
Here is a look at what's been happening and why the Strait of Hormuz matters.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump, speaking at a White House meeting with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, said on Monday the United States is working with Islamabad to find a way out of the war in Afghanistan.
Trump held out the possibility of restoring U.S. aid to Pakistan, depending upon what is worked out, and offered assistance to Islamabad in trying to ease strained ties with India.
The Navy has identified the missing sailor from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Slayton Saldana, who was assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 5, with Carrier Air Wing 7.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force has suspended paying incentive fees at all 21 military housing bases operated by landlord Balfour Beatty Communities following a Reuters-CBS News report that the company falsified maintenance records at an Oklahoma base to help it qualify for millions of dollars in bonuses.