National Guard troops are set to deploy along the U.S.-Mexico border through summer 2023, stretching a Pentagon mission there into its fourth year.
The Defense Department authorized a maximum of 2,500 National Guardsmen to man the border its next fiscal year, which ends after September 2023, Military Times reported.
That marks the latest extension of a mission with roots in former President Donald Trump’s 2018 border deployments, which included a batch of 5,200 troops in an election season move against an approaching migrant caravan.
At the time, those troops joined about 2,000 National Guard members already on the border, the New York Times reported.
The number of authorized troops on the border has fallen since then. But the Department of Homeland Security is still requesting federally activated Guardsmen four years later to support Customs and Border Protection with surveillance, intelligence and aviation, even after Trump’s declaration of an emergency on the border was canceled.
Officials have said there is no obvious end to the deployment. But the head of the border mission, Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, told Military Times the finish line may lie in more money to the CBP.
“I think they need to be funded,” VanHerck said. “I think they need to also utilize technology, technology of the future that can help them get away from a manpower-based, intensive problem, to one [where] they can utilize technology as well, to solve their challenges.”
VanHerck has also described the border as “a law enforcement challenge,” not a military one, adding that “we need to get those law enforcement agencies … the proper capabilities and the proper manpower.”
A recently approved funding bill included over $100 million for new technology at CBP, as well as money to hire 250 customs officers and 1,000 other staff.
Troops were also sent to the border under Trump’s predecessors in 2006 and 2010, according to PBS. The longest of those two deployments lasted two years.