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Inhofe visits active duty troops at southern border

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Inhofe
Inhofe

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, visiting the U.S. border with Mexico on Monday, said the role of active duty military personnel at the border will be a major issue when his committee begins writing a new defense bill.

Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said about 3,000 active duty troops are involved now in securing the southern border. The rotations are such that at least 18,000 troops must be trained annually for the duty, he said, adding that they receive essentially the same training as troops heading to Afghanistan.

The committee, which has begun crafting the National Defense Authorization Act, is set to meet next week, Inhofe said. The annual bill sets Defense Department policy.

Among the policy questions will be the role active duty troops can play at the border, said Inhofe, R-Tulsa.

“This is going to be a major part of discussion,” he said in an interview. “We need to change the restrictions our troops have regarding policing activity. It’s controversial.”

President Donald Trump began sending active duty personnel to the border last year, over the objections of Democratic lawmakers who viewed the move as political.

Inhofe went to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Brownsville, Texas, on Monday. He received a briefing from Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, commander of the U.S. Army North, about troop deployments at the border. Inhofe also spoke with junior officers and members of the Texas National Guard.

Inhofe has been backing Trump’s push to build a wall. He said Monday the number of border apprehensions had skyrocketed in recent months.

Figures on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website show southern border apprehensions reached 92,607 in March, up from 50,751 in December.

Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›

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