Pentagon Considering Sending Military Troops to Southern Border
The Pentagon is considering sending hundreds of troops to the southern border after President Donald Trump reiterated Thursday the military would be used to prevent a caravan of Central American migrants from entering the United States.
A U.S. official tells VOA the number of troops provided will depend on what capabilities are requested from the Department of Homeland Security. The troops would support border patrol agents. More than two thousand National Guard troops have already been deployed to the area.
President Trump has referred to the caravan of migrants, which is more than a 1,600 kilometers from the closest U.S. border, as a "national emergency."
"I am bringing out the military for this National Emergency. They will be stopped!," Trump wrote in a post on Twitter earlier Thursday. Trump also agreed with a border patrol labor union official that Democrats are to blame for migrants seeking refuge in the U.S.
Trump has blasted Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala for not stopping their citizens from departing for the U.S. He said Monday he would begin cutting off or reducing foreign aid to those countries and threatened last week to use military troops to close the border.
NATO Begins Largest Exercise Since Cold War
About 50,000 NATO personnel from 31 NATO and partner countries are springing to action Thursday at the start of the alliance’s Trident Juncture exercise, its largest drills since the end of the Cold War.
The massive exercise takes place in and around Norway and involves about 65 ships, 250 aircraft and 10,000 vehicles.
NATO’s Command Senior Enlisted Leader for Allied Command Operations, Command Sgt. Maj. Davor Petek, told VOA in an exclusive interview that the large-scaled defensive games send a “very simple message.”
“We are ready, and we are capable to meet any possible security threat coming to our NATO borders,” he said. “Nobody’s willing to mess with an alliance that has so much potential, so much capability.”
NATO said the drills are not an act of aggression, and the exercise’s commander said the alliance has invited Russia to observe.
“I’m happy that we have observers because they’re going to see that we’re very good at what we do. And that will have a deterrent effect on anybody who wants to cross those borders, but one nation in particular,” U.S. Navy Adm. James Foggo, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples, told reporters at the Pentagon earlier this month.
The exercise comes with Russia and the West still bitterly divided over Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, with some NATO countries worried Moscow may try to encroach on their sovereign land.
Trident Juncture is expected to run through Nov. 7.