“Somewhat to be determined”

Written by SK Ashby

What are active duty services members doing on the border? Why are they there? What's the real, long term goal?

These are good questions and it certainly appears that Secretary of Defense James Mattis does not have a good answer.

Mattis traveled to the border this morning where he spoke to the press and fielded questions from soldiers deployed to the border. And considering how the latter turned out, he may regret it.

The long term goal is "somewhat to be determined" because he literally doesn't know.

Mattis did say he expects the Department of Homeland Security will ask them to lay down more barbed wire beyond what they've already deployed, but that's not a long term goal. That's something they expect to finish within the next "7 to 10 days" according to Mattis.

If you glance at the calendar, you'll notice that means Trump's border troops will spend Thanksgiving laying barbed wire to stop a caravan of unarmed migrants who aren't even heading in their direction.

When he was directly asked about soldiers spending the holidays on the border waiting for a non-existent threat, Mattis said troops deployed overseas also won't get to home for the holidays.

From the Military Times:

Mattis told reporters that there are now more than 5,900 troops deployed, and that DHS’ initial requests for force response and barrier build-up of concertina wire and jersey walls would be completed “in 7 to 10 days.”

Forces will stay longer than that though, through at least the holidays. When pressed about the holidays away, Mattis pushed back, noting there are forces all around the globe who won’t be home either.

“Welcome to your military, it’s on duty,” he said.

It's true enough that forces deployed overseas won't get to go home, but I think it's disingenuous to compare that to Trump's political stunt on the border.

Being deployed to the demilitarized zone in South Korea or to Afghanistan is not the same as sitting on the border within eyesight of real food and families. And the men and women deployed to the border aren't confronting a real threat. They're not even armed.