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Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar will house troops in preparation for arriving migrant caravan

U.S. Marine Corps Col. Wayne R. Steele salutes during the National Anthem at his retirement ceremony on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, San Diego, Calif., June 12, 2013. (Sgt. Keonaona Paulo/Department of Defense)

Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar have been designated as base support installations to house active-duty troops assisting U.S. Customs and Border Protection in enforcing security at the southeastern border, military officials announced Wednesday, Oct. 31.

The two Marines Corps bases will serve as landing spots for additional personnel that may be needed at the U.S.-Mexico border, said Major Mark Lazane, spokesman for the United States Northern Command, a joint command in Colorado Springs that is designated to synchronize units and personnel for the Department of Defense in support of civil authorities.

“We set base support installations near an operational area,” Lazane said. “They serve as logistics hubs. Bases can be subtracted or added.”

Temporary housing will be set up at the military bases for the arriving troops. There also will be shipments of light towers, barrier materials such as razor wire, and ready-to-eat meals.

Four other U.S. Navy bases in Southern California also have been put on notice: Naval Air Facility El Centro, Naval Base Coronado, Naval Base San Diego and Naval Base Point Loma.

Commanders at these bases have been informed they may need to support the growing number of troops — now at 5,200 — being deployed to the border as part of Operation Faithful Patriot.

The operation, ordered by the Trump administration, is an effort to enforce border security as a migrant caravan from Central America makes its way to the southeastern U.S. border. Many in the group are fleeing violence in their home countries. The caravan remains almost 1,000 miles from the border, progressing at about 15 to 20 miles per day.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis approved the troop deployment last week. The additional troops will join an estimated 2,100 National Guard troops already in the area, Lazane said.

The announcement of the base locations comes after the Department of Homeland Security requested the Department of Defense provide a range of assistance, including planning, engineering, transportation, logistics and medical support to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“In an operation like this there’s a lot of planning,” Lazane said. “These bases have been identified as the need arises.”

As of Wednesday, the Pentagon had notified about 7,000 active-duty service members that they could be sent to help the operation as the military prepares to expand the mission beyond the first wave of troops.

The active-duty forces come primarily from the U.S. Army and include five combat engineer companies, aviators from the 3rd Infantry Division and the 82nd Airborne Division, military police officers from Fort Hood and Joint Base San Antonio in Texas, Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and Fort Riley in Kansas. There also will be logistics units coming from the 4th Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne Division. Specialized troops from the U.S. Air Force also are being sent.

“I see no active involvement from Marines at the border at this time,” Lazane said.

Mattis authorized specific missions the troops will perform including planning, logistics, medical and construction duties, Lazane said. There will be helicopters, engineer battalions that will erect temporary vehicle barriers and deployable medical units.

The timeline for when troops could arrive at Camp Pendleton and Miramar has not been released, Lazane said.


© 2018 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

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