WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon said on Wednesday it would no longer refer to a mission to send thousands of troops to the U.S. border with Mexico as “Operation Faithful Patriot,” a name critics saw as having political overtones.
“We are no longer calling it by the name Operation Faithful Patriot,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. He said the Pentagon would, instead, say the mission was in support of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), but he did not give a reason for the name change.
There are more than 7,000 active-duty U.S troops near the border with Mexico.
Several groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, had accused President Donald Trump of politicising the military ahead of Tuesday’s midterm congressional elections.
Trump had hardened his stance on immigration ahead of the vote, and drew attention to a caravan of migrants that was trekking through Mexico towards the United States.
U.S. Defence Secretary Mattis has rejected criticism that the troop deployment was a political stunt.
The Pentagon move comes after Trump and his fellow Republicans expanded their control of the U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s vote, following a divisive campaign marked by fierce clashes over race and immigration.
Still, Republicans lost their majority in the House, a setback for the president after a campaign that became a referendum on his combative leadership.
Earlier this week, Reuters reported that the Trump administration discussed using the U.S. military to build facilities to house detained migrants as part of its mission on the Mexican border, but the idea was dropped after the Pentagon expressed doubts about it.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Bernadette Baum)