Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, journeyed to Texas over the weekend to get a feel for the situation on the Southwest border.
Shanahan and Dunford said they wanted to get information about the border directly from the people affected.
“We have amazing people down there doing a very, very difficult job,” Shanahan said during an interview with reporters traveling with him. “One of the takeaways was they really have a difficult job to do and the other one was [the Defense Department] can really help. And the part of my responsibility is to translate that we can help into a real work statement.”
The U.S. officials on the border told the defense secretary that barriers do work and should be part of the effort to strengthen the line with Mexico. “Any place where someone can cross the border and disappear within seconds or minutes, that’s where you need barriers,” Shanahan said.
Officials also discussed improving monitoring and detection and the smart deployment of resources.
The leaders will now look at what tasks the Department of Homeland Security can transfer to DOD so agents at the border can be more productive, he said. “And the place that they are most productive is on foot doing the apprehension,” Shanahan said.
The acting secretary said he will sit down this week with the service secretaries to examine how they can contribute to the effort and he will produce an actionable plan.