WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon has quietly stopped calling the deployment of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border “Operation Faithful Patriot,” dropping the name even as thousands of American forces head to southern Texas, Arizona and California.
According to U.S. officials, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis directed the department to stop using the name and simply describe the mission as military operations on the border. The change was ordered early this week, but no reason was given.
Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, would only say that the department is no longer using the name. But other U.S. officials said Mattis didn’t like the name and believed it was distracting from the troops’ actual mission, which is in support of the border patrol. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations.
The name hasn’t been formally changed or rescinded, but the Pentagon has stopped using it in press releases and documents.
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Pentagon officials rolled out the name last month after President Donald Trump ordered thousands of active duty troops to the southwest border in response to a caravan of migrant families walking slowly north through Mexico toward the U.S.
As of Wednesday, more than 5,600 troops have been deployed to Texas, Arizona and California and are mainly in staging bases. Only about 500 troops are actively supporting operations on the border, and many of those have been installing coils of razor wire and erecting tents to house U.S. troops and border patrol.
The military says it will deploy a total of about 7,000 troops, but has left open the possibility that the number could grow. Last week, Trump said he would send as many as 15,000 troops. There also have been about 2,100 National Guard troops operating along the border for months as part of a separate but related mission.
The Pentagon still has refused to release any cost estimates for the troop deployment.
The name adjustment was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.