The Defense Department has been asked to plan for the possible deployment of an additional 5,000 troops to the U.S.'s southern border to assist federal agents in stopping the "caravan" of migrants and political asylum seekers heading north, according to several reports Monday.
Reports from The Wall Street Journal, USA Today cited anonymous U.S. officials outside the Defense Department. The deployment would place more troops at the border than are currently stationed in Syria or Iraq.
Pentagon spokespeople had no initial comment but said a statement could be issued later Monday.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the deployment will be dubbed "Operation Faithful Patriot" and tentatively involve sending 1,800 troops to Texas, 1,700 to Arizona and 1,500 to California.
The 5,000 figure is far in excess of previous estimates of how many would join the roughly 2,000 National Guard troops already on the border to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Last Friday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis agreed to the request of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen for more troops to back up CBP, but the brief Pentagon announcement of the agreement did not give numbers.
On Saturday, Dana White, the chief Defense Department spokesperson, sent out a tweet disputing published reports that the new deployments would involve 800 to 1,000 troops.
"The signed order did not specify the number of troops that will support this mission. Media reports of 800 or 1000 troops deploying are inaccurate," White tweeted.
President Donald Trump has made the threat posed by the caravan a main feature of his rallies leading up to the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
Early Monday, he tweeted, "Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border. Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!"
On Sunday, Mattis told reporters traveling with him to Prague that some logistical support for additional troops at the border is already underway, but he did not state the number of troops that would be deployed or give a timeline for when they would begin moving.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.