The Slatest

Troops at the Border Won’t Be Stopping Anyone From Entering, Military Clarifies

A soldier in Donna, Texas, moving barbed wire near the U.S.-Mexico border.
A U.S. Army soldier opens a gate while on guard duty near the U.S.-Mexico border in Donna, Texas, on Nov. 5.
John Moore/Getty Images

The military has made one thing very clear: There may be thousands of troops being deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border, with more coming, but they aren’t going to be doing very much patrolling of the border. Regardless, there were lots of pictures of them near the border before and on Election Day.

“There is no plan for U.S. military forces to be involved in the actual mission of denying people entry to the United States,” Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday. “There is no plan for the soldiers to come in contact with immigrants or to reinforce the Department of Homeland Security as they are conducting their mission. We are providing enabling capability.”

That means they won’t be doing the things that people imagine soldiers defending against an “invasion” would do: They won’t be stopping anyone from coming in.

The more than 5,000 troops at the border are, however, laying down lots of barbed wire—and taking lots of pictures of it. “Five of the units are made up of public affairs specialists, combat photographers, and media support staff—troops assigned to provide photos and news releases about what the other units are doing,” BuzzFeed News reported. Seven of the 39 units are military police, while “the rest are trained to do engineering work and provide logistical support or medical assistance.”

The Defense Department has posted hundreds of pictures of the mission, called Operation Faithful Patriot, many of which show troops arriving in buses or helicopters, laying down barbed wire, and constructing temporary shelters (for themselves).

The main migrant caravan, meanwhile, has arrived in Mexico City, according to the Associated Press, about 600 miles from the nearest border crossing. At their current pace, those who press onward are probably several weeks away from reaching the United States.

Dunford said that it was not the role of the military to “assess the appropriateness of the mission” but instead to carry out legal orders from the president.