January 29, 2019

As House Convenes Hearing, Warren, Speier Release DoD Reply on Trump Administration's Questionable Deployment of Active Duty Military Personnel to Border

Warren, Speier share previously undisclosed information; pose new questions about potential emergency declaration and reports that Pentagon officials are troubled by the deployment

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, and Representative Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, released the Department of Defense's reply to their November 2018 letter questioning the Trump Administration's virtually unprecedented decision to send 5,000 troops to the southern border a week before the midterm elections and, earlier this month, to extend the operation through September 2019.
The DoD's reply highlights the cost of the operation, which is reportedly set to exceed $130 million through the end of January - with the deployment to continue for months longer. In response to the question of whether the use of rocks and stones could be used as a justification to shoot individuals at the border, as the President implied in public comments, the DoD responded that "force is to be used only as a last resort, and the force used should be the minimum necessary."

 The author of the reply, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood, will testify at today's House Armed Services Committee (HASC) hearing.   

The lawmakers also sent a follow-up letter with new questions about the possible political motivations behind the Trump Administration's decision to extend the deployment for another nine months. Rep. Speier will attend the HASC hearing; the lawmakers have asked that Undersecretary Rood "come to the hearing prepared to address the...questions."
Their inquiry asks about reports that Pentagon officials have expressed "uncertainty and anxiety" that the President is using the military for political purposes.  Their letter also asks about the impacts of an emergency declaration to build a border wall by President Trump, which would potentially require the diversion of military construction funds that have been allocated for other purposes.
In their follow-up letter, Senator Warren and Rep. Speier wrote, "The initial deployment represented a virtually unprecedented use of active-duty military forces at the border, with little or no justification or rationale. We are concerned about reports that President Trump's 'penchant for politicizing the military' have fueled 'unprecedented uncertainty and anxiety inside the Pentagon.'"
They requested answers to their questions no later than February 11, 2019.