UPDATE 1-Pentagon could send about 7,000 U.S. troops to Mexico border -official
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the number was an initial estimate and could change.
"The total number of troops deployed will change each day as military forces flow into the operating area, but initial estimates indicate the Department of Defense has identified approximately 7,000 troops to support, if required, Operation Faithful Patriot," the official said.
The official said about 2,000 of the 7,000 would be on standby in case they were required.
On Tuesday, the top U.S. general overseeing a deployment of more than 5,200 troops to the border with Mexico said troop levels would rise further, but declined to say how high or estimate what the operation will cost.
Many basic questions remained unanswered days after the Pentagon announced the open-ended deployment of over 5,200 active-duty troops to the border, including the scope of the mission as well as the Pentagon's assessment of any threat posed by arriving migrants.
President Donald Trump has hardened his stance on immigration ahead of the Nov. 6 congressional elections. He has drawn attention to a caravan of migrants trekking through Mexico toward the United States as he seeks to fire up support for Republican candidates ahead of hotly contested midterm elections for the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.
Republican lawmakers and other Trump supporters have applauded the deployment. But critics say Trump is politicizing the military, deploying them as a stunt to drive Republican voters to the polls without any real national security threat. (Reporting by Idrees Ali Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)
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