General Milley Weighs In On Possible US Military Intervention At The Southern Border

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter & Pentagon Correspondent
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Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley recognized a problem at the southern border but urged Congress against using the U.S. military to combat the cartels that are exacerbating the crisis Wednesday.

Cartels operating out of Latin America funnel both migrants fleeing their countries and deadly narcotics illegally through the U.S. border with Mexico, overwhelming state and federal authorities focused on stemming the flow. Milley agreed with Republicans in the House that these cartels are “taking advantage” of the U.S. but said that combating the cartels is a job for law enforcement and U.S. intelligence, not the military.

“Until there’s a policy change, if there’s ever going to be a policy change this is fundamentally a law enforcement and intelligence operation,” he said at an Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday.

“There’s no question that there’s a vulnerability on our southern border. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out,” Milley added.

He cited the thousands of migrants entering the U.S. each day from the southern border and a “major league fentanyl crisis” contributing to rising overdose deaths in the U.S. (RELATED: ‘I Will Not Yield’: Republican Rep Spars With Democrat Rep Over Blaming Biden For Northern Border Crisis)

Some members of congress have proposed using the U.S. military to target drug cartels with lethal force.

Republican Florida Rep. Mike Waltz, a member of the Armed Services Committee, co-sponsored a House bill in January that would allow the president to declare war on cartels, according to a statement.

“We are being taken advantage of,” Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia said.

“Totally,” Milley responded. “I don’t disagree with that,” he added, after Scott lamented the ease at which potentially dangerous actors could sneak past customs and law enforcement into the U.S.

However, President Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, refused on Tuesday to answer a question whether a crisis existed at the southern border.

The Biden administration proposed a new policy barring migrants who traveled through separate countries before applying for asylum in the U.S. from entering in February, a revival of Trump-era restrictions, according to CNN.

Interdictions of illegal migrants have surged at the southern border in the past two years, straining the resources of Border Patrol, iCE and CBP and creating a severe backlog of migrants along the Mexican side of the border.

Law enforcement agencies and U.S. intelligence cooperate with Mexico and other host nations in Latin America to identify and thwart illegal flows of drugs and migrants.

The crisis spans hemispheres, with China supplying the precursor chemicals to fentanyl, Milley noted.

Milley said he had spoken to Gen. Glen VanHerck, who heads the North American Aerospace And Defense Command (NORAD), and Gen. Sarah Richardson, the commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), about issues on the continent.

NORAD and SOUTHCOM have “adequate” resources to address the issues within their area of operations, Milley said, but no combatant command has enough.

“Sure, they could use more assets,” Milley said.

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