The Pentagon announced Sunday the deployment of 3,750 more active-duty troops to the U.S. border with Mexico.
“Additional units are being deployed for 90 days, and we will continue to evaluate the force composition required to meet the mission to protect and secure the southern border,” the Pentagon said.
The deployment will raise the total active duty forces supporting U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to approximately 4,350.
The announcement is in line with what Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan had said on Tuesday when he provided estimates for the next phase of a military mission that has grown in size and length. Critics have derided it as a political ploy by the White House as President Donald Trump seeks billions to build a border wall.
Members of Congress have question whether the border mission is distracting troops from their main work of fighting extremists abroad and training for combat. The first active-duty troops were sent to the border on about Oct. 30 for a mission that was to end Dec. 15. It has since been extended twice.
“What impact does it have to readiness to send several thousand troops down to the Southern border? It interrupts their training. It interrupts their dwell time,” Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said at a hearing on Tuesday.
U.S. President Trump has repeatedly floated the idea of declaring a national emergency if the deal doesn’t include money for a border wall with Mexico, a plank of his 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump initially ordered the deployment of thousands of active-duty troops to the border with Mexico in October last year to deter members of a caravan of Central American migrants from illegally entering the United States.