Let’s put this into perspective. Secretary of Defense James Mattis authorized the deployment of 5,200 active duty U.S. troops to the border of Mexico to help deal with a walking caravan of civilians fleeing Central American violence in pursuit of asylum in the United States. That means there will soon be more than twice as many U.S. active duty military on the southwest border than fighting ISIS in Syria and approximately equivalent to the number of U.S. active duty troops in Iraq.
So why do President Trump and Mattis view this migrant caravan of fewer than 4,000 civilian refugees, one thousand miles and at least six weeks away from the border, to be a more significant threat, much less an appropriate priority, for an already overstretched U.S. military. I’m sure they don’t. It is not a threat. This is a craven political stunt by President Trump ahead of the U.S. midterm elections, and a cynical capitulation by a secretary of defense who has prided himself on improving the readiness, focus, and lethality of the U.S. armed forces and who was once known as a no-nonsense warfighter.This article was originally published in Defense One.