U.S. cuts USD $1.5 billion to Afghan forces to fund border wall

Democrats could retaliate by putting new restrictions on the Pentagon’s authority to transfer money to other programs

U.S. cuts USD $1.5 billion to Afghan forces to fund border wall
The Pentagon will transfer millions of dollars that will be used to build a wall in the Mexico-U.S. border – Photo: Gregory Bull/AP
English 15/05/2019 12:48 Reuters Washington Idrees Ali Actualizada 12:55
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Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved the transfer of USD $1.5 billion to build over 130 km of barriers on the border with Mexico, U.S. officials said on Friday, including cutting around USD $600 million from an account meant for Afghan security forces.

The move was opposed by Democrats, who also criticized a March transfer of USD $1 billion in military money to fund President Donald Trump’s wall.

“The funds were drawn from a variety of sources, including cost savings, programmatic changes, and revised requirements, and therefore will have minimal impact on force readiness,” Shanahan said in a statement.

Shanahan also said that the U.S. military had more than 4,000 service members on the border, along with 19 aircraft.

All 10 Democrats on the Senate appropriations subcommittees that handle defense, veterans affairs, and related spending, wrote to Shanahan to oppose the decision. “We are dismayed that the Department has chosen to prioritize a political campaign promise over the disaster relief needs of our service members,” they said.

A U.S. official said the latest transfer would include USD $604 million from funds for the Afghan security forces, which are struggling to hold territory against Taliban militants.

The United States had appropriated USD $4.9 billion in support for those forces this year. The official said the money was taken from that account because they found savings in contracts.

“It took less money to meet the policy commitment than we thought,” another U.S. official said, adding this was not the first time money had been reprogrammed from the account.

The remainder of the money will come from a chemical demilitarization program, a retirement account, and funds for Pakistan and Air Force programs.

Lawmakers have hinted they may respond by putting new restrictions on the Pentagon’s authority to move money around, as it has done in the past to deal with natural disasters.

Immigration is at the center of Trump’s presidency and re-election campaign. He previously declared a national emergency in order to redirect funding to build a border wall without Congress’ approval, and his fellow Republicans in Congress sustained his veto of legislation that would have stopped it.


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