Keep our military strong by upholding the oath of the soldier, “to defend our country against all enemies foreign and domestic”. Our troops should no longer be sent overseas to defend other countries, spread democracy or “keep the peace.” They should never be asked to fight and die for a country that they took no oath to defend. I am in favor of federal legislation to place the National Guard under the Department of Homeland Security to never be deployed oversees. This will give patriotic Americans, who do not wish to join the military to fight other nations wars, a reason to join the military, increasing enlistment and strengthening our homeland defense. This will at the same time constrain our presidents, present and future, by putting fewer troops at their disposal for foreign adventures.
I was in New York City when the planes hit the twin towers on September 11, 2001 and saw the city shutdown as emergency vehicles streamed past me. It was less than a year later that I joined the military. I chose the National Guard, because it was a symbol of the minute men, the citizen-soldier, the warriors who left their jobs temporarily to defend their country at a moment’s notice. Yet the mission of the Guard had sadly changed and for all intents and purposes had been combined with the regular military. As such, when war broke out in Iraq, we were called upon to go.
While in Iraq, I served alongside members of the Louisiana National Guard. On August 29, 2005, we watched the reports together, as Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. National Guard Units from other states as far away as California had to be called in. In all, 4,200 members of the Louisiana National Guard stood by helplessly in Iraq as their home state was devastated. Captain Ryan from the Louisiana National said, while watching the path of destruction left by Hurricane Katrina on television from Iraq, “It’s our turn to help our own, and we’re not there.” Gov. Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana stated, the loss of these National Guard troops hampered the government’s response to the disaster and the mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana, Ray Nagin, publicly blasted federal officials for their inadequate response to the emergency in his city, saying, “They don’t have a clue what’s going on down here.”
Many on the Gulf Coast complained that their government was unable to respond quickly enough while they were trapped with no food or drinkable water, as lawlessness erupted in the flooded streets. One New Orleans Native stated incredulously, “You can do everything for other countries but you can’t do nothing for your own people. You can go overseas with the military, but you can’t get them down here.”
My proposed modification of the National Guard, as strictly a state-side agency, is driven by the history of the Guard, as well as my own experience in it. Placing the Guard under the authority of its governors and when under federal authority would fall within the Department of Homeland Security, would provide our nation with an “ever ready force” on the home front, highly capable, and specifically trained, to respond to any and all disasters at home, including natural disaster such as Katrina and direct attacks like 9-11. It would not be deployed for any missions. Their training would be tailored to fight a defensive war at home, but also to keep the peace and deal with natural disasters, as well as chemical, biological and nuclear attacks at home. Each state would tailor their training with emphasis on their particular vulnerabilities, i.e. Louisiana for flood control, New York to respond to biological, nuclear or a conventional attack. These troops would be experts in addressing any and all dangers they could encounter at home.
This force will be the “first (in coordination with police and firefighters) or second responders” for disaster relief and the “first responders” in repelling an invasion. In repelling an attack they will be highly trained in how to avoid civilian deaths and casualties. The current need of the National Guard to be prepared for deployment to hundreds of countries, with hundreds of different needs and challenges, would be a thing of the past. Our National Guard units would be focused on the vulnerabilities of their own states and the needs of their own country.
*: United States Institute of HeraldryVectorization: Keenan Tims – Converted from EPS available at https://dod.defense.gov/About/Military-Service-Seals/, Public Domain, **Flickr
The Military, Anxiety in Iraq for Guardsmen From Gulf Area, New York Times Newspaper, by Michael Moss, September 4, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/04/national/nationalspecial/04soldiers.html.
Political Issues Snarled Plans for Troop, New York Times Newspaper, by Eric Lipton, Eric Schmitt br / and Thom Shanker, September 9, 2005,
Stars and Stripes, MidEast Edition, P.8, September 4, 2005.
Stars and Stripes, MidEast Edition, Associated Press, P. 9, September 2, 2005.