The US military will deploy over 5,200 troops, including armed soldiers, to bolster President Donald Trump’s efforts to secure the border with Mexico as a caravan of migrants treks toward the frontier, a senior US general said on Monday.
General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the head of US Northern Command, said 800 US troops were already en route to the Texas border and 5,200 would be headed to the southwest region by week’s end, far higher than the 800 to 1,000 initially forecast.
“That is just the start of this operation. We will continue to adjust the number and inform you of those,” O’Shaughnessy told reporters. “But please know that is in addition to the 2,092 that are already employed from our National Guard” troops.”
The Pentagon previously declined comment on potential troop numbers, saying that planning was still underway for a mission that risks drawing the US military into a politically charged operation just days ahead of the November 6 mid-term congressional elections.
President Donald Trump, who has seized upon the Central American migrant caravan in campaign rallies ahead of the vote, said on Twitter that the military would be waiting for the procession – suggesting a far more direct role in confronting the migrants than US defence officials have previously suggested.
A caravan of mostly Hondurans – estimated to number between 3,500 and 7,000, who left their country in mid-October are now in southern Mexico. Since then, two more caravans of migrants have set off.
Some migrants have abandoned the journey, deterred by the hardships or the possibility instead of making a new life in Mexico. Others joined it in southern Mexico.