It will be a grim Thanksgiving for the troops Donald Trump is sending to the border in his unnecessary, nativistic, operation to prevent asylum-seekers coming to the United States from entering. The deployment, which officials in Trump‘s Pentagon say is “an expensive waste of time and resources, and a morale killer to boot,” will last until December 15.
That means the 5,600 troops already there are trying to set up a base for the 15,000 troops Trump envisions, a deployment that could cost $200 million and for which the Pentagon does not have a budget allocation. They’re there to do essentially nothing but provide logistical support to border agents. They can’t enforce law, so they’re there just to set up these massive camps for themselves and border patrol. They have no mission and they’ll be there over Thanksgiving and that’s a big problem says Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) who served as a helicopter pilot in Iraq. “When you give a soldier a real mission, you have less of a morale problem, even if it’s Christmas or Thanksgiving,” he told the New York Times. “But when you send a soldier on a dubious mission, with no military value, over Thanksgiving, it doesn’t help morale at all.”
It also doesn’t help that military leadership does not support the missions and it’s seen by many as a purely political action. The troops have the bare minimum of necessities in the camps set up. Just enough electricity for lights and communications—no entertainment. Because water is in short supply, they have a strict shower schedule and 7-minute limit. They have only the infamous MREs, pre-packaged “meals ready to eat.” The 20-person tents they sleep in have no electricity and no air conditioning. Phones can only be charged at a few generators that provide lights.
For being ripped away from their families over the holidays, on a mission that is entirely for Trump‘s ego gratification and racist impulse fulfillment, the troops get no extra combat or hostile fire pay. And MREs for Thanksgiving dinner.