Oct. 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. Defense Department will deploy 5,200 active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to groups of Central American migrants moving north through Mexico by the end of the week, officials said Monday.
Terrence O'Shaughnessy, the chief of U.S. Northern Command, said an initial deployment of 800 soldiers were already heading to the border to prepare for the arrival of the so-called migrant caravan.
"As we sit right here today, we have about 800 soldiers who are on their way to Texas right now," O'Shaughnessy said. "They're coming from Fort Campbell. They're coming from Fort Knox. They're moving closer to the border. They're going to continue their training, and they're ready to deploy to actually be employed on the border."
O'Shaughnessy said the military would work alongside U.S. Customs and Border Protection to shore up the border beginning in Texas, followed by Arizona and California.
Three combat engineer battalions, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, troops specialized in aviation, medical treatment and logistics, as well as helicopters with night-vision capabilities and sensors.
"We'll be able to spot and identify groups and rapidly deploy CBP personnel where they are needed," O'Shaughnessy said.
CBP Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan said the agency must be prepared for the potential arrival of a "very large group" referring to the 3,500 people making their way toward the border.
The caravan was once made up of up to 7,000 people and is expected to shrink even further before arriving at the U.S. border.
"We will not allow a large group to enter the United States in an unsafe and unlawful manner," McAleenan said.