SEPTEMBER 5, 2019 – Defense Department officials say 127 military construction projects in both the United States and overseas will be deferred to free $3.6 billion for construction or augmentation of barriers along 175 miles of the southern U.S. border.
The Department of Homeland Security sent a list of prioritized border construction projects for DOD review in February, Jonathan Hoffman, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, told reporters yesterday. DOD determined which projects were necessary to support the use of the armed forces in conjunction with the national emergency at the southern border, he said, and also determined which military construction projects could be deferred.
Hoffman said Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper “has determined that such construction projects are necessary to support the use of the armed forces, and, therefore, DOD will undertake 11 border barrier military construction projects on the southern border pursuant to section 2808 of Title X, U.S. Code.”
Family housing, barracks or dormitory projects were not considered for deferment, nor were projects that had already been awarded or those that were expected to be awarded during fiscal year 2019.
The $3.6 billion will be delivered to the Army in two allotments, Hoffman said. The first $1.8 billion is associated with deferred overseas projects, he said, and the second half of the money, associated with deferred projects in the United States and its territories, will be made available to the Army only if needed.
Kenneth P. Rapuano, the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, said the 11 projects at the southern border involve strengthening or augmenting existing, less effective barriers, as well as installing barriers where none currently exist. The projects will enhance about 175 miles of the border, he added.
Hoffman said Homeland Security data shows that the number of resources needed to patrol an area “drops dramatically” where a border barrier has been completed.
He said construction of the border barrier will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of DOD forces supporting DHS’s border security mission. Over time, Hoffman said, border barrier construction may reduce the demand for DOD personnel and capabilities in particular areas. As additional barriers are built, and the current humanitarian and security crises changes, he said, DOD and DHS will continue to evaluate capabilities needed to support the DHS border security mission.
The construction and augmentation projects will happen on property owned by DOD or another federal agency, said Elaine McCusker, the Pentagon’s deputy comptroller.
Construction could begin on DOD-owned land within 130 to 145 days. The start of construction on other property will have different timelines, she said.
Hoffman said that DHS, DOD and the Army Corps of Engineers are moving as expeditiously as possible.
“They have been going through the planning, the permitting process, and the [engineering] process to begin the projects,” Hoffman said. “So, the goal is to move out as quickly as possible.”
List of Military Construction Projects
Yuma Project 2 ($40M): Replacement of one segment of primary pedestrian fencing on the Barry M. Goldwater Range starting 2.5 miles east of Border Monument 198 and extending east to Border Monument 297, for a total of approximately 1.5-2 miles.
Yuma Project 10/27 ($527M): Construction of approximately 31 miles of a new secondary pedestrian fence system on the Barry M. Goldwater Range.
Yuma Project 3 ($630M): Replacement of 31 miles of vehicle barriers with new pedestrian fencing, beginning approximately 0.4 miles east of the Barry M. Goldwater Range and continuing for approximately 31 miles east through the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Yuma County.
San Diego Project 4 ($67M): Construction of 1.5 miles of a new primary pedestrian fence system starting 3 .6 miles east of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry (POE), extending east, and construction of2 miles of a new secondary pedestrian fence system starting 3.6 miles east of the Otay Mesa POE, extending east.
Yuma Project 6 ($65M): Construction of approximately l mile of a new primary pedestrian fence system starting at Andrade POE and extending a half mile west of monument marker 206, then resuming east of the Colorado River and extending south one mile; and construction of 2 miles of a new secondary pedestrian fence system starting a half mile east of monument marker 208 and extending east to the Colorado River, and then resuming on the east side of the Colorado river and extending south for approximately one mile.
El Paso Project 2 ($476M): Replacement of 23.51 miles of vehicle barriers with new pedestrian fencing in noncontiguous segments within Hidalgo and Luna Counties, New Mexico.
• The first segment begins approximately 5.1 miles east of the New Mexico/Arizona Border, continuing east for 4.55 miles.
• The second segment begins approximately 3 miles west of the Antelope Wells POE to 3 miles east of the POE for 6.12 miles.
• The third segment begins approximately 20 miles west of the Columbus POE, extending west for 12.84 miles.
El Paso Project 8 ($ l 64M): Construction of approximately 6 miles of a new primary pedestrian fence system in place of existing vehicle barriers starting 1.5 miles west of monument marker 64 and extending 2 miles east of monument marker 63 ; and construction of approximately 6 miles of a new secondary pedestrian fence system starting 1.5 miles west of monument marker 64 and extending 2 miles east of monument marker 63.
San Diego Project 11 ($57M): Construction of approximately 3 miles of a new secondary pedestrian fence system starting 2 miles west of the Tecate POE and extending to 1.5 miles east of the Tecate POE.
El Centro Project 5 ($20M): Construction of approximately 1 mile of a new secondary pedestrian fence system starting 0.5 mile west of the Calexico West POE, extending 1 mile east of the Calexico West POE.
Laredo Project 7 ($1,268M): Construction of approximately 52 miles of a new primary pedestrian fence system starting from the Laredo-Columbia Solidarity POE No11h West for approximately 52 miles along the Rio-Grande River.
El Centro Project 9 ($286M): Construction of approximately 12 miles of a new secondary pedestrian fence system, starting 1.5 miles west of monument marker 223 and ending at monument marker 221, and resuming 1 mile east of the Calexico West POE and extending east for 3 miles.
BY C. TODD LOPEZ