FACT CHECK: Is Trump Moving 15,000 Troops From Iraq And Afghanistan To The US-Mexico Border?

Emily Larsen | Fact Check Reporter

Sen. Mark Warner said on “Face the Nation” Sunday that President Donald Trump is moving troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Verdict: False

The Department of Defense (DOD) confirmed that it is not withdrawing troops from Iraq or Afghanistan for border support.

Fact Check:

Warner, a Democrat representing Virginia, encouraged people to vote in an interview two days before the midterm elections.

“I think many, many people realize we need a check on this president,” Warner said. “And then in the last couple of days, where he said that he’s going to take 15,000 of our military troops, take them out of Iraq and Afghanistan, no plan, move them to the border and then allow those troops to fire on kids who might be throwing stones.”

Trump said Oct. 31 that he would send “anywhere between 10 and 15,000 military personnel” to the southern border in response to a caravan of thousands of Central American migrants traveling through Mexico in hopes of applying for asylum when they reach the U.S.

By law, active duty military members are not allowed to detain those crossing the border illegally or seize drugs from smugglers. But they can provide equipment and logistical support for Customs and Border Protection (CPB), including temporary vehicle barriers and helicopter transport. (RELATED: Can Governors Refuse Trump’s Request To Send The National Guard To The Border?)

Troops are not, however, being relocated from Iraq and Afghanistan to support the border deployment.

U.S. Northern Command released a list of military units that it would deploy to the southwest border in a press release Nov. 1. All are from bases in the U.S.

The press release states that the forces in support of border operations are under the Northern Command, which covers the continental U.S., Alaska, Canada, Mexico and surrounding waters, in addition to the Bahamas, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. It estimates that DOD will have more than 7,000 troops supporting the border in California, Arizona and Texas.

“No forces from Iraq or Afghanistan are being recalled to support CBP operations,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews confirmed in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Andrews said that of the 4,800 troops deployed as of Monday, there are approximately 2,600 in Texas, 1,100 in California and 1,100 in Arizona. “We are not providing any further level of specificity on troop locations,” he said.

The DOD no longer releases the exact number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, but a Nov. 1 Congressional Research Service report said that there are around 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and news reports say that there are about 5,000 in Iraq.

Trump said Nov. 1 that rocks thrown by migrants at members of the military will be considered the same as gunfire, but said the following day that troops would not have to shoot at those who throw rocks. “That doesn’t mean shoot them. But we’re going to arrest those people quickly and for a long time,” Trump said.

Pentagon officials formerly called the border deployment “Operation Faithful Patriot,” but has dropped the name in recent days.

Warner’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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Emily Larsen

Fact Check Reporter