President Trump may believe there’s a crisis demanding U.S. military deployments to the southern border and major funding transfers, but the commandant of the Marine Corps isn’t buying it.
Marines Gen. Robert Neller warns that the president’s emergency declaration now poses an “unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency.”
In two internal memos obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Neller said “the ‘unplanned/unbudgeted’ deployment … and shifts of other funds to support border security, had forced him to cancel or reduce planned military training in at least five countries, and delay urgent repairs at bases.”
The unusually strongly-worded memos, dated March 18 and 19, went to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
The Times quotes Neller, a four-star general, as writing that Marines “rely on the hard, realistic training” of exercises with allies “to develop the individual and collective skills necessary to prepare for high-end combat.”
“Neller’s red flag memos come as the White House and Defense Department have sought to reassure wary lawmakers that the military has not been negatively affected by the deployment to the border of roughly 6,000 service members from the Marines, Army, Air Force and Navy since October,” the Times says, adding that the Pentagon did not respond to requests for comment.
Earlier this week, the Defense Department reported that border operations had cost about $230 million by the end of January — a sum that “could grow to about $850 million this year,” according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, the Times says.