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article imageTop U.S. general — No military threat at southern border

By Karen Graham     Feb 26, 2019 in Politics
Under pointed questioning from senators, the top U.S. general for homeland defense said Tuesday that he sees no military threat coming from the southern border with Mexico, but his focus is on “very real” threats from China and Russia.
Air Force General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander, US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday there is no military threat at the southern border, reports the Associated Press.
“It is not a military threat,” O'Shaughnessy said, quickly adding this doesn’t necessarily mean the military should not be involved in the border mission. His comments came just a few hours before the House of Representatives voted on a resolution to block Trump’s Feb. 15, 2019 declaration of a national emergency along the border.
O’Shaughnessy visited the southern border on Saturday with Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. He was very careful to defer any assessment of the border security issue to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection. He told the committee those agencies believe they need more fencing.
When asked specifically if he thought we had a national emergency, O'Shaughnessy said, it is a “national issue” that requires a “whole-of-government approach.” He also added that he would defer to the DHS “on the character of the threat."
Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine questioned whether Congress should allow Trump to use Pentagon money for a non-defense emergency. “The threat isn’t military, and still we’ll take $6 billion out of the defense budget to deal with it?” said Kaine. “If we set that precedent, I certainly can foresee a day when a president is going to say 40,000 gun deaths a year are an emergency, and why don’t we take money out of the Pentagon budget to deal with that?”
A Republican lawmaker cited the 72,000 drug overdose deaths we had in 2017 as an emergency and a reason to build a wall to block undocumented immigrants and drugs from entering the United States. “If that’s not an emergency, 72,000 dead Americans killed by opioids and heroin in one year, I have no frickin’ idea what an emergency is,” Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said at the hearing.
But Senator Sullivan also agreed with Gen. O'Shaughnessy's assertion that Russia’s expanding fleet of icebreakers in the Arctic presents a serious threat, and the U.S. needs to increase its capabilities there.
The U.S. Coast Guard currently has one working Polar-class icebreaker ship, and there is funding in the Defense Department budget to begin building more, according to Time. Sullivan acknowledged the poor condition of the U.S. ship - calling it a disgrace.
More about southern border, US Northern Command, china and russia, real threats, military threats
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