That number, which includes the cost of National Guard forces that have been there since April, will increase greatly if the deployments continue into 2019.
Trump said he plans to deploy as many as 15,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, which would roughly equal the size of the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan.
Since the Trump administration is calling on the Pentagon to cut unnecessary expenditures this amount of money is significant.
Trump recently told the military it had to slash next year’s budget by $33 billion due to this year’s extremely large increase in the federal deficit.
Many Trump critics, including military veterans and Democrats in Congress, have criticized him for wasting money in a politically motivated stunt ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections.
Wasting money is not going over well in the Pentagon right now, when the military budget is under pressure to impose cutbacks.
“Instead of working in a bipartisan manner to make comprehensive, common-sense, and humane reforms to our immigration system, the President continues to turn to politically-motivated fear mongering and uses Department of Defense resources and personnel as a means to drive his troubling anti-immigration agenda.”
A former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, tweeted that the deployment was “wasteful:”
“Our men and women in uniform are better trained, better equipped, and better led so they meet any threat with confidence. A wasteful deployment of over-stretched Soldiers and Marines would be made much worse if they use force disproportionate to the threat they face. They won’t.”
Our men and women in uniform are better trained, better equipped, and better led so they meet any threat with confidence. A wasteful deployment of over-stretched Soldiers and Marines would be made much worse if they use force disproportional to the threat they face. They won’t.
— GEN(R) Marty Dempsey (@Martin_Dempsey) November 1, 2018
The Trump administration still maintains that the deployment is necessary. The commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Kevin McAleenan, argued that the deployment is necessary to “effectively and safely” handle the possible arrival of thousands of migrants walking toward the border in caravans from Central America.
But military planning documents, dated October 27 predict that only 20 percent of the migrants are likely to complete the journey to the border.
This means the armed force protecting the United States could be ten times larger than the “invading” force of unarmed (and very tired) refugees.
Although Defense Secretary Mattis said this week that the military doesn’t do stunts, the deployment of such a large force does seem like a political stunt.
“The military has a lot of things that it needs to be doing these days,” said a former Pentagon official. “Looking at estimates of the size of the caravan, you could ask the question as to whether this is the most appropriate use of U.S. active-duty forces.”