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U.S. troops deployed along the U.S.-Mexico border

U.S. Marines help to build a concertina wire barricade at the U.S. Mexico border in preparation for the arrival of a caravan of migrants at the San Ysidro border crossing in San Diego, Calif., Nov. 13, 2018. (Photo: Mike Blake/Reuters)

U.S. troops help fortify southern border as migrant caravan approaches

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis defended the use of active duty troops on the U.S.-Mexican border, saying that in some ways it provides good training for war. He argued that it’s analogous to a 1916 deployment to counter the Mexican revolutionary Gen. Francisco “Pancho” Villa.

The Pentagon chief said that within a week to 10 days the 5,800 troops currently deployed for the border mission will have accomplished all the tasks initially requested by Customs and Border Protection, although additional tasks are now being worked out between the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security. Mattis did not say how soon the mission might end; current deployments are scheduled to last until Dec. 15, but that could change.

In addition to the 5,800 active duty troops in the border area, about 2,100 National Guard troops have been providing border support since April.

Mattis said the short-term objective is to get sufficient numbers of wire and other barriers in place along the border as requested by Customs and Border Protection. The longer-term objective, he said, is “somewhat to be determined.” (AP)

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