Washington, DC – Defense (DoD) Secretary James N. Mattis and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen are working closely together to enhance DoD support to DHS, according to Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White.
Addressing journalists at the Pentagon weekly briefing, White said that the move comes after President Donald J. Trump authorized the National Guard, with the affected governors’ approval, to enhance its support to US Customs and Border Protection along the southern US border.
In a presidential memorandum, Trump said the security of the United States is “imperiled by a drastic surge of illegal activity on the southern border.”
He directed the secretary of defense to support DHS in “securing the southern border and taking other necessary actions to stop the flow of deadly drugs and other contraband, gang members and other criminals, and illegal aliens into this country.”
White along with Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Joint Staff director, told journalists, “The National Guard’s efforts will include aviation, engineering, surveillance, communications, vehicle maintenance and logistical support.”
Announcing the immediate establishment of a new border security support cell led by Kenneth P. Rapuano, the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, White said, “This is a 24/7 cell comprised of several DoD representatives who will serve as the single conduit for information and coordination between DoD and DHS.”
On the life-span of the cell, White predicted, “The cell will last for the foreseeable future, to ensure we surge our capacity to meet the president’s enhanced border security goals,” cautioning, “This is not business as usual.”
Referring to the outcome of the ongoing conversations DHS Secretary Nielsen was having with the governors, White said, “We also have to see the requirements and the missions, and then that will better determine how we move forward, and how quickly we move forward.”
General McKenzie echoed her sentiments, adding, “Once we know the requirement, we’ll move very quickly. This department will move very quickly to answer those requirements, once they’re known in scope.”
On the finer details of the strategy, General McKenzie said, “You might see four different policies in four different states, I don’t think so,” concluding that the Pentagon would have “very soon … the aggregated list of asks from the governors filtered through DHS. Then we’ll examine it, we’ll look at what our posture’s going to be as a result of that.”