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NEWS | May 3, 2023

Secretary of Defense approves Homeland Security request for troops at border

By Jim Garamone DOD News

In response to a request from the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has approved a temporary increase in the number of service members supporting U.S. Customs and Border Protection on the Southwest border.

The Department of Defense will send 1,500 service members in response to the request, said Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder May 2. There are already 2,500 National Guardsmen assisting CBP, a Homeland Security agency.

These will be active duty Soldiers and Marines who will deploy for 90 days. They will fill critical gaps, such as ground-based detection and monitoring, data entry, and warehouse support "until CPB can address these needs through contracted support," Ryder said. "Military personnel will not directly participate in law enforcement activities." 

The general said DOD is evaluating options on replacing these forces with other sources — potentially forces from the Reserve components and contracted support.  

"While this request is for 90 days, I would point out that DOD has supported DHS on the southwest border for 18 of the last 22 years and every year since 2006," Ryder said. 

Ryder also discussed the evacuation efforts from embattled Sudan. U.S. Africa Command is committed to supporting the Department of State's efforts.

"Over this past weekend, the support involved organizing and synchronizing transportation from Khartoum to Port Sudan and on to Saudi Arabia for U.S. citizens and others who wished to depart Sudan," Ryder said.

The USNS Brunswick, the USS Truxton and the USS Puller remain in the vicinity of Port Sudan to provide support to the evacuation mission as needed, he said.  

The U.S. has also deployed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets in the region to mount a 24/7 watch of potential land-evacuation routes. "Africom's [U.S. Africa Command] deconfliction cell continues to distribute relevant information to the Department of State, our allies and partners, and international [nongovernmental organizations] to help enable informed decision making," Ryder said.

He noted that the USNS Brunswick evacuated approximately 300 people from Port Sudan to Jeddah, where they were met by U.S. consular affairs officials.

"The Brunswick has returned to Port Sudan to be available to transport any additional citizens or others who may require transport out of Sudan," he said.