16:26 GMT04 April 2020
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    The US Defense Department's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced Tuesday it is launching an investigation into the use of military personnel on the US’ southern border with Mexico.

    In a Tuesday memo titled “Evaluation of the US Military Support of Security Operations at the US Southern Border,” the US government watchdog overseeing the Pentagon said that the investigation will cover the “actual use of US military personnel in support of security operations at the US southern border; the training provided to US military potential, including training on potential contacts with civilians; US military personnel coordination and interaction with Department of Homeland Security personnel at the US southern border; and the amount of funding to support the US military deployment to the southern border.”

    The memo, which was sent to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other defense officials, also requested that each addressee provide the OIG with a point of contact by December 13, 2019.

    According to a report by NBC News, the number of troops at the border, which includes active-duty military and National Guard members, has exceeded 5,000 since US President Donald Trump began deploying them in 2018. Congressional Democrats have repeatedly accused the president of using a military presence at the border to advance his hard-line immigration policies.

    The size of the troop deployment the border is currently around 6,500 servicemembers, according to a Pentagon spokesperson, NBC reported. 

    The memo was released just a few months after 34 House Democrats sent a letter in September to Defense Department acting Inspector General Glenn Fine urging the watchdog to investigate what they referred to as the “misuse and politicization of US military personnel and resources” at the US-Mexico border. 

    In the letter, the lawmakers also wrote that they are “strongly concerned” that Trump’s deployment of troops to the border is “operating under dubious legal authorities and nebulous rules of engagement.”


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