WASHINGTON, Sept 4 — More than 120 US military construction projects will be adversely affected as the Pentagon prepares to use US$3.6 billion (RM15.1 billion) to help build or enhance 175 miles (282 km) of the border wall with Mexico, US officials said on Tuesday.
Earlier this year, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the US-Mexico border.
The emergency declaration allows the Trump administration to use money from the military construction budget and the Pentagon has said it could use US$3.6 billion from the budget.
In March, the Pentagon provided Congress with a broad list of projects that could be affected, but did not provide details.
On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said 127 would be impacted and the first US$1.8 billion would come from deferred military construction projects outside the United States. The second tranche would come from deferred military projects inside the United States, the officials said.
Elaine McCusker, the deputy under secretary of defence comptroller, said construction could begin as early as within 100 days on land owned by the Defence Department, like the Barry Goldwater Air Force Range in Arizona.
There are currently more than 4,500 active duty and National Guard troops on the border.
Lieutenant General Andrew Poppas, director of operations at the Joint Staff, said he expected that building the wall would reduce the number of troops needed on the border.
Trump made the border wall a major 2016 campaign promise. The wall, which critics have called a political stunt, is part of his hardline immigration policies that are central to his 2020 re-election bid.
“Department of Defence components and military departments provided input and prioritized projects based on effects on readiness and consistency with the national defence strategy,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said.
Hoffman added that lawmakers were being notified of the decision, after which the specific projects affected would be released.
The announcement was criticized by Democratic lawmakers.
“This decision will harm already planned, important projects intended to support our service members at military installations in New York, across the United States, and around the world,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the decision would undermine national security and “the quality of life and morale of our troops, making America less secure.” — Reuters