Trump wall: US defence chief signals $1.5bn transfer

Allocation to fund 80 miles of barrier includes $600m earmarked for Afghan forces

The latest move comes on top of a March transfer of $1bn in military money to fund US president Donald Trump’s wall. File photograph: Getty

The latest move comes on top of a March transfer of $1bn in military money to fund US president Donald Trump’s wall. File photograph: Getty

 

Acting US defence secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved the transfer of $1.5 billion (€1.3 billion) to build more than 80 miles of barriers on the border with Mexico, a United States official said on Friday.

The allocation includes taking about $600 million in savings from an account meant for Afghan security forces. The latest move comes on top of a March transfer of $1 billion in military money to fund President Donald Trump’s wall, an initiative that drew criticism from politicians.

“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,” said Mr Shanahan. He added that the military had more than 4,000 service members on the border, along with 19 aircraft.

The US source said the latest transfer would include $604 million from funds for the Afghan security forces, who are struggling against Taliban militants.

The US had appropriated $4.9 billion in support for Afghan security forces for fiscal year 2019. The official said the money was taken from that account because they found savings in contracts.

“It is not reflective of anything related to our commitment . . . It took less money to meet the policy commitment than we thought,” said another US official, adding that this was not the first time the US had reprogrammed money from the account.

The move comes as the United States is in talks with the Taliban to end the more than 17-year-old war. US and Taliban negotiators wrapped up their sixth round of peace talks on Thursday with “some progress” made on a draft agreement for when foreign troops might withdraw from Afghanistan.

But there is concern that the overstretched Afghan forces could crumble if US troops leave the country. – Reuters