The Marine Corps’ leading general rebuked President Donald Trump’s deployment of troops to the US-Mexico border in a pair of “strongly-worded” leaked memos to Pentagon.
In the memos obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller pushed back against the president’s “unplanned/unbudgeted” emergency border deployment.
That unexpected demand, Neller said in the letters to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, pose an “unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency.”
The four-star commanding general complained that Trump’s deployment came “at a time where we are attempting to double down on strengthening alliances and attracting new partners.”
Because of problems posed by the deployment, Neller added, Marines “will not participate in planned training exercises in Indonesia, Scotland and Mongolia, and will reduce their participation in joint exercises with Australia and South Korea,” the LA Times noted.
Mandy Smithberger, defense expert at the nonpartisan Project for Government Oversight watchdog group, told the newspaper that “it’s pretty unusual for the commandant to be raising concerns that… a top political priority for the president is undermining the ability of the Marine Corps to do the training they need.”
“This is a pretty strongly worded memo,” Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, told the LA Times.
“The incremental cost of the border deployment is likely small compared to these other factors,” Harrison added. “It sounds like there are some bureaucratic politics at work here.”