Army Secretary: Troops 'getting training' out of Trump's border deployment

Army Secretary: Troops 'getting training' out of Trump's border deployment
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Army Secretary Mark Esper said Thursday that the more than 7,000 active duty troops deployed to the U.S. – Mexico border are “getting training” out of the mission.

“When you look at the mix of the forces going there, it’s logistics and aviation and engineers and I will tell you… they’re getting training out of that,” Esper said during a forum at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

“They are deploying. They are putting their equipment on trains and whatnot or convoying and they are deploying to a location, and they are offloading, and, in many cases, these troops are performing the missions that they were designed to perform.”

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There are currently more than 5,600 active duty troops – the majority from the Army - deployed to the southern border in California, Arizona and Texas in support of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

About 1,300 troops were sent to California, 1,500 to Arizona and 2,800 to Texas, according to the latest Defense Department numbers, released Thursday.

The Pentagon expects it will eventually send more than 7,000 troops as part of the mission formerly known as Operation Faithful Patriot. DOD dropped the name on Tuesday, the day of the midterm elections, with no explanation. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks MORE ordered the Pentagon to deploy the troops last month in anticipation of a shrinking caravan of several thousand Central American migrants traveling through Mexico to the border but still weeks away from the United States. The deployment is expected to last until mid-December.

Critics blasted the decision as an unnecessary political show ahead of the midterms and a drag on military resources and readiness.

Esper said he doesn’t yet see a degradation of readiness by the units deployed but added that “time will tell” how the mission will affect the Army.

“I don’t see, necessarily, with the units I’m referring to, seeing a degradation of readiness,” he said. “Everything else we’ll have to see over time. I don’t want to speculate on this or that, but that’s kind of where, as I see things right now, where it stands.”