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Mattis agrees that border security is national security, Pentagon says

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis during a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on Nov. 6, 2017. (Matti Matikainen/Xinhua/Sipa USA/TNS)
April 06, 2018

The Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security are working together to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said Thursday during a press briefing at the Pentagon.

White said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis agrees with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that border security and national security go hand-in-hand.

The National Guardsmen who are going to be sent to the border will support border patrol agents in their security efforts along the border, White said, adding that they will provide aviation, engineer, surveillance, communications, vehicle maintenance and logistics support.

The timeframe and troop levels that will be sent to the border have yet to be determined, White said. However, a new border security support cell, led by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security Kenneth Rapuano, will be established.

“This is a 24/7 cell comprised of several DoD [Department of Defense] representatives who will serve as the single conduit for information and coordination between DoD and DHS,” she said.

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he hopes to send between 2,000 and 4,000 National Guard troops to the southern border.

Several governors of states on the border with Mexico have already expressed their support for Trump’s plan to send troops to the border, including the governors of New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.

Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (Twitter)

In a Presidential memorandum signed on Wednesday, President Trump said the security of the United States is “imperiled by a drastic surge of illegal activity on the southern border.”

“Until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military,” Trump said at the White House earlier this week.