Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has drawn the ire of a powerful Democrat following a hearing on military support to the border last week.
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., sent a letter to Shanahan following the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) hearing. Smith is the committee’s chairman.
In the letter, he accused Pentagon leaders of withholding significant information, including the upcoming deployment of additional troops to the nation’s southern border.
“The number one thing that the House Armed Services Committee wants from the Defense Department this Congress is transparency,” he wrote. “We did not get full transparency during this week’s hearing about DoD support to the southern border,” Smith said, citing the testimony of John Rood, the undersecretary of defense for policy.
“I am deeply troubled that the witnesses did not disclose the upcoming increase in guard, reserve, and active duty personnel, even though we asked them multiple times during a two-and-a-half-hour hearing what would happen next on the border,” he added. “They never mentioned it, despite the fact that the Secretary of Defense was revealing an increase in personnel that same day. This was at best an error in judgment, and at worst flat-out dishonesty.”
According to the Pentagon, 3,750 more troops will be sent to the U.S.-Mexico border. They will be charged with placing 150 miles of concertina wire and supporting Customs and Border Protection officials. The troops will join thousands of active-component personnel and National Guardsmen already deployed to the border.
Smith said the HASC would have been “extremely interested” in discussing the latest deployment.
“This is a violation of the executive branch’s obligation to be transparent with Congress, which oversees, authorizes, and funds its operations,” the congressman said. “It also raises questions about whether the Department thinks the policy of sending additional troops to the border is so unjustified that they cannot defend an increase in public.”
Smith said Shanahan called him to provide additional details on the deployment, but said the call was not a substitute for transparency before Congress.