by Carla Babb
PENTAGON – U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall is expanding.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper recently approved another 32 kilometers (20 miles) of barriers for the United States’ southern border with Mexico, a defense official has confirmed to VOA.
The official said Esper is using an expected surplus to build the additional barrier. To date, nearly 250 kilometers of the barrier wall have been funded by shifting military funds originally marked for other purposes.
A divided U.S. Supreme Court in July allowed the administration to start using disputed Pentagon funds to construct more than 200 kilometers of fencing along the border.
The justices lifted a lower court freeze that was designed to block $2.5 billion in spending while lawsuits by the Sierra Club and another advocacy group went forward. Those cases may still go trial.
The Pentagon had previously approved the reprogramming of funds into its counter-drug account, which is authorized to spend money on border barrier construction in order to block potential drug smuggling corridors.
In May, Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan confirmed the transferred Pentagon funds included money the Pentagon was saving for training Afghanistan security forces. At the time, he added he would not reprogram any more money for the border wall.
A defense official told VOA Tuesday that in addition to the Afghan training money, funds were also reprogramed to the border wall from personnel and recruiting, upgrades to the E-3 aircraft and Minuteman III, and from lower-than-negotiated contract savings for air launch cruise missiles and Predator Hellfire missiles.