The United States Armed Forces hold a special place in the collective heart of America. We’re a superpower, mainly because of our military might. We won the Cold War; we prevailed against a foe that for decades had more men, more tanks, and more weapons than we ever could, but we won because we fight smarter. Our military is peerless, and yet most people don’t realize how constrained it is.
Many second- and third-world nations have seen coup d’états that were driven by military leaders; in those countries, he who controlled the guns, tanks, and soldiers was the de facto power in the country. Moamar Qhaddafi and Hugo Chavez, for example, were both lieutenant colonels in their respective militaries before they seized power. So why doesn’t that happen here in America? It’s simple – first of all, control of the military is highly fleshed out in our constitution. Standing armies were viewed by the Founding Fathers as a threat to a free republic. They wanted to make sure that the people were in control of the military at all times. For this reason, we have things like authorized strength – a not-to-exceed number for unit sizes to ensure our armies don’t grow too big. Officer appointments must be ratified by the United States Senate (yes, all of them down to the lowest second lieutenant), and generals and above must be nominated by the President and confirmed by Congress. We keep a very tight leash on our military!
There is a growing military force in our nation today, but unfortunately, it’s not part of the U.S. Armed Forces. Instead, police departments and agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are growing increasingly militarized – and they have little to no oversight. Most metro SWAT teams have some manner of armored vehicles at their disposal, but consider that DHS has recently purchased 2,700 refitted Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. MRAPs are currently being used by the U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan, and they are just what their name implies – heavily armored, blast-resistant behemoths, most of which have machine gun turrets and a variety of other sophisticated weapons. Why would a civilian agency like DHS, under whose umbrella resides such docile sub-agencies as the Transportation Security Agency, require anything that was mine resistant? What are they going to do with these armored vehicles? Does this have something to do with the 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition they recently ordered? Questions, questions.
The one thing that is for certain is that while the military isn’t allowed to expand and contract at will, and while the military is barred in the U.S. Constitution from performing law enforcement operations or collecting intelligence on American citizens on U.S. soil – DHS has no such constraints. It’s no secret that part of Obama’s 2008 campaign speeches revolved around his concept for a civilian security force that rivaled the military in terms of capability, and that appears to be what we’re approaching.
Why would the administration arm up a civilian agency to the teeth? There are plenty of good reasons – here are a few:
- DHS is not subject to public oversight, unlike the military. They can appoint officers and leaders at will, and these positions do not need to be ratified by anyone.
- DHS is not subject to any authorized strength limitations; it can perform law enforcement operations upon Americans on U.S. soil. DHS can detain U.S. citizens indefinitely without trial for no reason other than someone is suspected of being a terrorist.
- The current administration knows that most military members would refuse to conduct operations against American citizens, and therefore, the administration requires stooges who will do their bidding, no matter how dirty the work may ultimately become.
- The administration is aware that the current financial system is perilous, doomed to failure, and will eventually collapse, so arming up DHS is a nice insurance policy since politicians are in the habit of clinging to power, even when their efforts have failed. Sarah Palin, in a February 26, 2013 Facebook post wrote: “We’re going to default eventually and that’s why the feds are stockpiling bullets, in case of civil unrest.”
The simple fact is that the federal government, in a futile attempt at self-preservation, has decided that it most likely won’t have the support of the military, and thus has decided to take matters into its own hands. In a stark departure from the intent of the Founding Fathers of this great nation, the government has decided to create a monstrosity that would make George Washington turn in his grave – a private, civilian army armed with the latest military vehicles, weapons, and training, flush with ammunition paid for by the American taxpayer, and subject to no one except for a handful of high-ranking politicians. The President can essentially do whatever he likes with this civilian army of his. It’s a clever way to skirt the intent of the framers of the Constitution, but to what end?