Friday, March 02, 2007

Naked America

One of the underreported side effects of a war in Iraq fought on the cheap is suddenly becoming a grave issue:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon is not adequately equipping the National Guard and has not adapted to the increasingly important security role it plays in the post-September 11 environment, an independent commission said in a report to Congress on Thursday.

The report said the global war on terrorism had placed increased demands for the National Guard to provide forces for both overseas and domestic missions, but added that the Defense Department, or DOD, had been slow to adapt to the change.

"DOD's failure to appropriately consider National Guard needs and funding requirements has produced a National Guard that is not fully ready to meet current and emerging missions," the commission concluded.

Among its findings, the 13-member panel said the Defense Department was not adequately equipping the Guard for its domestic missions.
Pretty scary stuff, but it gets worse:
Nearly 90 percent of Guard units in the United States are rated "not ready," partly because of equipment shortages, according to Guard data and the findings of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, The Washington Post reported.

National Guard units deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have been required to leave large quantities of gear behind when they return home, the newspaper said.
So we're trashing them there so they can trash us here...

The National Guard's function used to be pretty simple: help out in an emergency that overwhelmed local authorities. You know, a tornado hits, you call in the Red Cross and National Guard. Or maybe a big blizzard.

Certainly during and after a terror attack.And while the Guard can be used to protect our land by fighting overseas, that really ought to be a last resort and ought to be in support of regular army and other military branch forces. You should be sending in the first team. Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush et al, did not, and there's a price to pay for that.

See, there's a concept in American constitutional law, posse comitatus, which was created in Colonial times, as the British army used to barrack their soldiers in private residences, creating a de facto network of military police. Although the Constitution itself does not create the concept of "posse comitatus", it does contain the Third Amendment, prohibiting the quartering of soldiers in peacetime without the owner's consent. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1875 goes one step further in barring the use of the military in nearly any domestic situation, under Federal authority.

The National Guard is an outgrowth of Article 1 of the Constitution, and so is explicitly designated for domestic use along with the Coast Guard, should it become necessary.

You know, like, in a blizzard. Or tornado. Or terror attack. The governor of the afflicted state (remember, it cannot be the President) can ask for his state's Guard to assist.

We've been fairly lucky in that, since the Iraq invasion began, aside from Katrina, we haven't had a major disaster that required all hands on deck.

And one begins to wonder how much better Katrina would have turned out had the Louisiana and Mississippi National Guards been at full complement. As it was, over 58,000 Guard troops from all over the country were called in, and you have to figure that the 30,000 that were serving in Iraq including thousands from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama could have been there, as the Civil War general used to say, "furstest", saving hours and saving lives.

But no. And it's costing us: lives, money, property. All to fight a war overseas that means nothing at a cheaper cost to the economic royalty.