On this edition of the Pentagon Beat: Tara Copp, Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times, and Hope Hodge Seck, managing editor of Military.com, discuss the armed forces’ deployment to the southern border, and how long they might stay there.
In response to a caravan of Central American migrants, President Trump ordered over 5000 troops to secure the southern border of the United States. Reporters joined our Pentagon Beat round-table to discuss what this deployment means, and what role the soldiers will play in operations at the crossing. “Because of posse comitatus, they are prohibited from being in a law enforcement role. Not only will they be in a back‑fill role, but there could be incidents where they have incidental interaction with some of the migrants,” said Tara Copp, Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. “Whether they could be providing medical, or happen to come across a family of migrants or whatever happens. In those cases, they have very specific rules of engagement in order to prevent any sort of episode from happening.” Hope Hodge Seck, managing editor of Military.com, says that because the caravan is nowhere near the border right now, the timeline for the military’s involvement is unclear. “This is going to unfold over weeks, and there is historical precedent for keeping troops at the border for an extended period of time,” Seck said. “During the Bush administration, There was a detachment that spent two years at the border. That cost the nation about 1.2 billion dollars.”