Thu, Sep 05, 2019 - Page 7 News List

More than 120 US military projects to be hindered by wall

Reuters, WASHINGTON

More than 120 US military construction projects would be adversely affected as the Pentagon prepares to use US$3.6 billion to help build or enhance 282km of the border wall with Mexico, US officials said on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the US-Mexico border.

The emergency declaration allowed the Trump administration to use money from the military construction budget and the Pentagon has said that it could use US$3.6 billion from the budget.

In March, the Pentagon provided the US Congress with a broad list of projects that could be affected, but did not provide details.

On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said that 127 projects would be affected and the first US$1.8 billion would come from deferred military construction projects outside the US.

The second tranche would come from deferred military projects inside the US, the officials said.

US Acting Undersecretary of Defense Comptroller Elaine McCusker said that construction could begin as early as within 100 days on land owned by the US Department of Defense, such as the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range in Arizona.

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Director for Operations Lieutenant General Andrew Poppas said he expected that building the wall would reduce the number of troops needed on the border.

“Department of Defense components and military departments provided input and prioritized projects based on effects on readiness and consistency with the national defense strategy,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said.

The specific projects affected would be released after lawmakers were notified of the decision, Hoffman added.

The announcement was criticized by US Democratic lawmakers.

In a conference call with US House of Representatives Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi discussed her telephone conversation with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper about the decision earlier in the day.

“My view of it is that stealing money from military construction, at home and abroad, will undermine our national security, quality of life and morale of our troops, and that indeed makes America less safe,” Pelosi was quoted as saying by an aide.

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