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article imageNearly 5,000 US soldiers posted near Mexico border

By AFP     Nov 5, 2018 in World

Around 4,800 US soldiers were deployed Monday to the border with Mexico, the Pentagon announced, saying it could not give a price tag for the operation Democrats decry as political maneuvering from President Donald Trump.

Some 1,100 of the troops are in California, another 1,100 in Arizona and 2,600 in Texas on the eve of crucial midterm elections that will determine whether Trump's Republicans keep their hold on power in Congress.

"This continues to be a dynamic situation with more units and personnel deploying to the operating area and we expect to reach 5,200 deployed personnel as early as today," said Colonel Bob Manning, a Defense Department spokesman.

Manning said more than 7,000 active duty troops were expected to "soon" be supporting the Department of Homeland Security.

Some 2,100 National Guard reservists have already been active in the area for several months, so the arrival of the latest troops will bring the total US military presence to 9,000.

Operation Faithful Patriot aims to block the huge groups of Central American migrants marching on foot toward the United States, where they plan to demand asylum.

Asked about the cost of the operation, Manning said it had yet to be determined by the Pentagon's financial services.

"The department will absorb the cost but I just don't have a number for you," he said.

US soldiers work with US Customs and Border Protection personnel at the Hidalgo  Texas  port of entr...
US soldiers work with US Customs and Border Protection personnel at the Hidalgo, Texas, port of entry, applying concertina wire along the Mexico border on November 2, 2018
Alexandra Minor, US AIR FORCE/AFP/File

Manning noted that DHS had requested that active duty troops, rather than reservists -- who usually partake in operations on US soil -- for this operation.

That's a sign that the White House was trying to circumvent the opposition of some governors, who need to approve the deployment of their state's National Guard troops.

"There is no plan for them to come in direct contact with migrants or protesters," Manning said.

Trump, who has warned of an "invasion" of the thousands of migrants now in Mexico, announced the military deployment last week, saying that up to 15,000 troops could serve in the operation.

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