Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has granted approval for transfer of $1.5bn by the Pentagon for the construction of more than 130km of a wall along the border with Mexico.
US President Donald Trump said that $5.7bn will be required to fund the wall, aimed at preventing people from crossing into the US and stopping the flow of drugs from Mexico.
The money transfer includes shifting around $604m from funds for the Afghan security forces, the next nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) programme Minuteman III, and from the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) programme.
In 2019, the US has appropriated $4.9bn in support for those forces, and an official said that the money was taken from the account because of savings from contracts.
The US Air Force said that the ballistic missile programme is needed to upgrade its ageing ground infrastructure.
However, plans to upgrade its control centre have been delayed and the Pentagon has decided to shift some money for the wall, a US Department of Defense (DoD) document stated.
In 2018, the airforce decided to end a $76m AWACS contract with Boeing reportedly due to delays in hardware and software development.
In a statement, Shanahan said: “The funds were drawn from a variety of sources, including cost savings, programmatic changes and revised requirements, and therefore will have minimal impact on force readiness.”
The remainder of the money will be from a chemical demilitarisation programme, the Pentagon’s new Blended Retirement System, which was launched in January 2018, funds for Pakistan and airforce programmes.
DoD officials have not so far provided a breakdown of money taken from each programme.
Another official said that this was not the first time money had been transferred from the account. In March, $1bn in military money was transferred to fund the border wall.
Administration officials had previously stated that reallocated money also could be used for other unfunded military projects.
The document stated that the department will also transfer money originally meant for a space test experiment involving the military’s Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA).
Money from savings that the department negotiated on air-launch cruise and Hellfire missiles will also be used to fund the wall.