The 5,800 active-duty troops which President Trump deployed to America’s southern border a week before the midterm elections are going home – after Thanksgiving.
Trump launched a surprise military operation in the lead-up to the midterms, saying they were needed to stop an “invasion” of “some very bad thugs and gang members” in a migrant caravan moving through Mexico towards the border. While they initially numbered 7,000 people, current projections estimate only 1,500 will reach the American border. In other words, there are 3.5 troops at the border for each migrant, the vast majority of whom experts say are families attempting to escape rampant bloodshed and starvation in their home countries.
Since the midterm elections, Trump has mentioned the caravan only once, and only after being prompted by questions from journalists.
“Our end date right now is 15 December, and I’ve got no indications from anybody that we’ll go beyond that,” said Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, who is overseeing the operation.
This news has further fueled outrage – including from high-ranking Pentagon officials – who say the mission was a multi-million dollar political stunt, meant only to motivate Trump’s vehemently anti-immigrant base. Some troops will be leaving the border before the caravan even arrives.
But not before Thanksgiving. Instead of spending time with their families, troops will be eating chicken and noodle MRE rations and sharing a 20-person tent without electricity. They are not receiving combat pay or hostile-fire pay because they aren’t even legally allowed to engage with migrants, and have mostly just been stringing barbed wire. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says their next task “is somewhat to be determined.”
Meanwhile, Trump will be feasting at Mar-a-Lago, the Florida resort where he has vacationed on average one day a week of his presidency (as of last April). Trump’s past Thanksgiving meal featured 24 dishes of turkey, stuffing, stone crab, leg of lamb, beef tenderloin, scallops, lobster bisque, ahi tuna martinis and seven desserts.
Nathan Wellman is a Grit Post contributing editor in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @LIGHTNINGWOW. You can also email him at info AT gritpost DOT com.