Guard Chief: Border Mission Cost Unknown

NGAUS Washington Report
April 24, 2018

Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, told lawmakers last week that the cost of deploying Guardsmen to the nation’s border with Mexico is impossible to guess this early in the mission.

“I really couldn’t hazard a guess yet on the total cost of this operation,” Lengyel told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee one week ago, according to Military Times.

As he spoke, he said, only about 1,000 of a potential 4,000 troops had been deployed. Plus, he said, the operation is scheduled to last until Sept. 30.

President Donald Trump asked governors to send Guardsmen to the border to assist the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to slow illegal entries into this country. He said the situation had reached “a point of crisis” and he had no alternative but to act.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., pointed out that a previous Guard mission to the border that began under President George W. Bush in 2006 carried a high price tag.

“Operation Jump Start cost $1.2 billion for the National Guard members over two years. Do you have any estimate as to what this operation is going to cost?” he asked the bureau chief.

Lengyel replied, “It’s difficult to estimate because I don’t know how many of the 4,000 the number will actually grow to. And I don’t know long they’ll actually stay.”

Durbin also relayed concerns from State Rep. Bill McCamley of New Mexico, who wondered if Guardsmen would be available for the upcoming forest fire season while serving on the border. His state is experiencing dangerous drought conditions.

Durbin asked Lengyel, “What’s your answer?”

“We have 450,000 men and women in the National Guard, and on the border today is [roughly] 1,000,” he said. “We could sustain that level without impacting state missions.”