Report | Aug. 14, 2020

Evaluation of the United States Military Support of Department of Homeland Security Southern Border Security Operations Under Title 10 Authority (DODIG-2020-115)

Evaluation

Publicly Released: August 18, 2020

 

Objective

The objectives of this evaluation focused on the use of DoD title 10 personnel supporting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) southern border security operations. Specifically, we determined whether the:

  • use of DoD title 10 personnel to support DHS southern border security operations was authorized by Federal laws and consistent with DoD policies;
     
  • DoD’s support of DHS southern border security operations complied with applicable Federal laws and was consistent with DoD policies;
     
  • DoD title 10 personnel supporting the DHS were provided adequate training consistent with Federal laws and DoD policies on the Standing Rules for the Use of Force (SRUF) and on potential reaction to contact with civilians or migrants; and
     
  • use of DoD funds for DoD title 10 support to DHS southern border security operations complied with applicable Federal laws and DoD policies.

 

Background

In November 2018, DoD title 10 personnel deployed to support DHS southern border security operations in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. According to the Secretary of Defense approved DHS requests for assistance, some of the duties DoD title 10 personnel were approved to perform included:

  • engineering support, such as building barriers at U.S. ports of entry and installing concertina wire;
     
  • medical support, such as medical evaluations and urgent medical care to civilians and migrants;
     
  • a crisis response force that deploys to provide protection to DHS personnel conducting operations at the ports of entry when migrants or other individuals attempting to enter the United States threaten to harm CBP personnel or disrupt the ability of CBP personnel to perform their Federal functions; and
     
  • detection and monitoring support, such as operating remote video surveillance systems, observing checkpoints, monitoring ground sensors, and operating mobile surveillance capabilities equipment to detect civilians and migrants in the area that DoD title 10 personnel are monitoring to assist DHS.

On September 19, 2019, the DoD Office of Inspector General (DoD OIG) received a letter from 34 members of Congress requesting that the DoD OIG review the use of DoD title 10 personnel and the associated resources required to perform law enforcement assistance in support of DHS southern border security operations.

The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy provides policy direction on homeland defense matters. This guidance is communicated through the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the U.S. Northern Command and its subordinate commands.

The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and U.S. Northern Command create policy and training for DoD title 10 personnel supporting DHS southern border security operations. The Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer provides financial management instructions for DoD support of DHS southern border security operations.

 

Findings

We determined the following.

  • The use of DoD title 10 personnel to support DHS southern border security operations was authorized by Federal laws and was consistent with DoD policies. Specifically, in all nine DHS Requests for Assistance that contained a request for DoD title 10 personnel, the Secretary of Defense-approved activities that were authorized by Federal laws and DoD policies, including show of force, crowd control, temporary detention, conducting cursory searches, and detection and monitoring.
     
  • Between October 24, 2018, and December 31, 2019, DoD title 10 personnel supporting DHS southern border security operations complied with applicable Federal laws and DoD policies. Specifically, we found that DoD title 10 personnel only performed duties that were approved by the Secretary of Defense in a DHS Request for Assistance, such as providing aviation support to CBP agents, installing concertina wire along the border, and staffing mobile surveillance capabilities sites. Additionally, we determined that DoD title 10 personnel had limited contact with civilians or migrants and contact that did occur was acceptable under DoD policy.
     
  • The DoD developed adequate training on the SRUF for DoD title 10 personnel supporting DHS southern border security operations. Specifically, the training curriculum for the SRUF included title 10 authorities allowed or limited by Federal laws and DoD policies. Although the DoD did not adequately document when 20 of 54 (37 percent) DoD title 10 personnel completed SRUF training, we determined that 50 of 54 (93 percent) of the DoD title 10 personnel in our sample were provided adequate SRUF training and could generally describe the SRUF to us. The remaining four DoD title 10 personnel in our sample were not provided the SRUF training as required. Furthermore, some unit commanders and noncommissioned officers provided additional informal SRUF training to DoD title 10 personnel.
     
  • The DoD obligated title 10 funds for DoD title 10 support to DHS southern border security operations in accordance with Federal laws and consistent with DoD policies. Specifically, the Secretary of Defense waived reimbursement for DoD title 10 support to DHS southern border security operations in accordance with Federal laws and consistent with DoD policy. Additionally, we determined that, between October 2018 and December 2019, the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps obligated and tracked the use of $144.3 million of the respective Service’s Operations and Maintenance funds in accordance with the DoD Financial Management Regulation (FMR) 7000.14 R and other DoD policy. For example, the Services funded DoD title 10 support to DHS southern border security operations in accordance with U.S. Northern Command fragmentary orders. Additionally, the Services used O&M funds for categories of expenses authorized in the DoD FMR. Finally, the Services tracked the funds obligated using standard financial codes in accordance with DoD policy.

 

Recommendations

We recommend that the Commander of the U.S. Northern Command:

  • provide training on the SRUF to the four DoD title 10 personnel and any other DoD title 10 personnel that were not provided training on the SRUF before deploying or performing duties to support DHS southern border security operations, as required by DoD policy; and
     
  • establish procedures to ensure that commanders document SRUF training for DoD title 10 personnel supporting DHS southern border security operations and a process to verify that all DoD title 10 personnel have received the required training before deploying or performing duties to support DHS southern border security operations.

 

Management Comments and Our Response

The Commander of the U.S. Northern Command agreed with the recommendation to provide and document SRUF training to DoD title 10 personnel supporting DHS southern border security operations. The Commander stated that SRUF training was provided to the four DoD title 10 personnel identified during our e valuation. We reviewed the orders from the U.S. Northern Command and found a requirement for quarterly SRUF training, but no evidence that the four DoD title 10 personnel that we identified were trained. Therefore, the recommendation is considered resolved, but open. We will close the recommendation when we receive evidence that the training was conducted.

The Commander also stated that fragmentary orders were published on March 25 and July 10, 2020, reinforcing the requirement that all personnel receive SRUF training and establishing a process and procedures to document and report SRUF training. We reviewed the fragmentary orders and confirmed the requirement that all personnel receive SRUF training and that commanders document and report the completion of the training. Therefore, the recommendation is closed.

 

This report is a result of Project No. D2020-DEV0SV-0041.000.