Local News

Troops with 82nd Airborne to deploy to US-Mexico border

Posted October 30, 2018 1:49 p.m. EDT
Updated October 30, 2018 6:28 p.m. EDT

— Members of the 82nd Airborne Division's Combat Aviation Brigade will deploy to the U.S.-Mexico border, WRAL News confirmed Tuesday.

The Pentagon is deploying 5,200 troops to the border in an extraordinary military operation a week before nationwide elections in which President Donald Trump wants voters to focus on what he calls an "invasion" — a slow-moving caravan of Central American migrants.

The troops from Fort Bragg will provide surveillance and emergency evacuation to help Border Patrol agents. The unit's helicopters have the very the latest technology and capabilities.

"They're enhanced with optics,” said Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy. “They have sensors that will allow them to operate at night and be able to provide assistance to bring our CPB personnel exactly where they need to be regardless of the conditions."

The helicopters will also provide transportation for Border Patrol personnel in need of medical attention.

"We're also bringing three highly experienced and capable combat engineering battalions with expertise in building temporary vehicle barriers," O'Shaughnessy said.

The number of troops being sent is more than double the 2,000 who are in Syria fighting the Islamic State group.

Two caravans of migrants, traveling mostly on foot, are still hundreds of miles from the U.S. border with Mexico. Most are poor, carrying the belongings that fit into a knapsack and fleeing gang violence or poverty. Any who complete the long trek to the border already face major hurdles to asylum in the country — both physical and bureaucratic — to being allowed to remain in the United States.

Some of the other troops who are deploying are coming from Fort Knox or Fort Campbell, both in Kentucky, which are also part of the XVIII Airborne Corps.