The White House announced on Monday that the 5,800 troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexican border amid President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about an impending refugee caravan crisis will begin returning home as early as this week, with the withdrawal likely to be complete by Christmas. “Our end date right now is 15 December, and I’ve got no indications from anybody that we’ll go beyond that,” said Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, who leads the land forces of U.S. Northern Command.

Republicans and Democrats alike had criticized the expensive southern border deployment, accusing Trump of using U.S. troops and the migrants as political props ahead of the midterm elections. “A military strained by 17 years of war and sequestration doesn’t need this,” David Lapan, a former marine and one-time Homeland Security spokesman for the Trump administration and a former Marine tweeted. “Service members who have repeatedly spent long periods of time away from home don’t need this. And the US doesn’t need its military to ‘defend’ against a group of unarmed migrants, inc. many women & kids.”

Tuesday, Buchanan appeared to cast doubt on the timeline he’d established on Monday, suggesting that instead of sending troops home, they may just be reassigned to different locations along the Mexico border. “We may shift some forces to other areas of the border to engineering support missions in California and other areas,” he said in a statement.

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