Pentagon eyes longer-term support on U.S.-Mexico border

Pentagon shifts $1.5B to fund border wall

Pentagon diverts another $1.5 billion for Trump's border wall

Acting U.S. Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved the transfer of $1.5 billion United States to build more than 125 kilometres of barriers on the border with Mexico, a U.S. official said on Friday, including taking about $600 million in savings from an account meant for Afghan security forces. There were over 100,000 apprehensions in April alone, the highest monthly total since 2007. But he confirmed that $1.5 billion more will be set aside for the border that came in part from "money we were under-running or saving or whatever terminology you want to use from Afghanistan".

This post has been updated with additional information. -Mexican border, officials said Friday. It follows the Pentagon's decision in March to transfer $1 billion from Army personnel budget accounts to support wall construction.

In congressional testimony May 1, Shanahan said he and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have been considering the question of how long the military will be needed at the border and how best it can support that need.

To piece together the $1.5 billion for additional wall construction, the Pentagon is shifting funds from several programs where it says it found savings. Some lawmakers have been highly critical of the Pentagon shifting money not originally authorized for border security. Now, the Pentagon is redirecting funds to build the wall that would normally go to military accounts that might be running short, such as re-enlistment bonuses and health care, according to Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies. The Pentagon said the contract management review that found the $604 million in savings was conducted between September 2018 and March 2019 by the US military command in Kabul.

The money had been meant to to support Afghan security forces and other Defense projects. Another US$344 million is being taken from a group of Air Force programs, where the Pentagon identified contract savings, and US$224 million from savings related to a military retirement system, the officials said.

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President Donald Trump on May 9, said he will nominate Shanahan to be his second secretary of defense. Ten senators, the Democratic members of the Senate Appropriations Committee subpanels on defense and military construction issues, slammed the move Friday in a letter to Shanahan.

In March, the Defense Department's inspector general investigated accusations that Shanahan had shown favoritism toward Boeing during his time as deputy defense secretary, while disparaging Boeing competitors.

The Pentagon also is taking $78 million from the Coalition Support Fund, which is money used to reimburse coalition partners - mainly Pakistan - for logistical and military support for American military operations.

There are now about 5,000 US service members on the border.

On May 3, Shanahan told reporters that the border crisis had developed more quickly than anyone had anticipated, putting extra pressure on DHS.

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