Trump wants to defend our borders. Democrats protest.

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by Larry Kummer

Summary: Trump will use our military to defend America’s borders. Democrats are shocked at this, and reply with mockery. Let’s look at the real world for answers.

The Great Wall of China



  1. Trump’s statement.
  2. Past deployments on the border.
  3. Government senility.
  4. Why to use the military.
  5. For More Information.

(1) From the statement from the White House on 4 April 2018

“To give our Border Patrol agents the support they deserve, President Trump is authorizing the deployment of National Guard units to the southern border to aid their mission. …

“Given the importance of secure borders to our national security, the National Guard, in coordination with governors, will remain in a support role until Congress takes the action necessary to close the loopholes undermining our border security efforts, including ending the practice of Catch and Release.

“This is not the first time in recent history that the National Guard has been deployed to the southern border. In 2012 {Ed. note: should be 2010, 1200 troops in Operation Phalanx}, President Barack Obama authorized the deployment of guardsmen to the border. President George W. Bush also authorized deployment of 6,000 guardsmen to the border as a part of Operation Jump Start, assisting in operations which resulted in the arrest of more than 173,000 illegal aliens, the rescue of 100 persons, and the seizure of more than 300,000 pounds of drugs. …

“More than a thousand people a day and more than 300,000 a year violate our sovereignty by illegally crossing the border. With our current laws and resources, we cannot stop illegal aliens from crossing the border or remove all of the illegal aliens we catch. Of the over 75,000 family units apprehended in FY 2017, only 2,605 were removed.

“Stonewalling by Members of Congress, however, has prevented our dedicated Border Patrol agents from getting the resources they so desperately need. Inaction has left glaring loopholes open and crucial legal authorities unauthorized, so the President is taking action and using his existing powers to fill these gaps.”

(2) About past deployments on the border

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluated the operations by Bush Jr. and Obama (report here). These deployments were requested by the governors of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.  The National Guard was activated under Title 32 – federally funded but commanded by the governors. Title 32 authorizes these units to conduct law enforcement activities, but the Secretaries of Defense limited their role – prohibiting them from making arrests. They cost $1.5 billion, pocket change compared to what we have burned in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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The troops had slightly different roles. In Jump Start (June 2006-July 2008) the Guard’s mission included aviation, engineering, and entry identification. In Operation Phalanx (July 2010-September 2011) their mission was restricted to entry identification, criminal analysis, and command and control. If the National Guards was assigned a mission to conduct mobile patrols, then they would only be able to identify persons of interest and contact the Border Patrol to make possible arrests or seizures. Under these rules used they are not allowed to investigate crimes, stop and search vehicles, or seize drugs.

Under the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, active duty forces are normally prohibited from direct participation in law enforcement, Congress has occasionally authorized them to provide support at the southwest border. This included direct funding, military personnel, and equipment. These deploymens supports training, operations (e.g., mobile surveillance units), and engineering (e.g., constructing roads at the border). DoD’s manned and unmanned aircraft would be useful, but are not used.

Why the limits on National Guard actions beyond those required by the law? The GAO gives the answer, hard-core bureaucratic thinking.

“The National Guard mission limitations are based in part on concerns raised by both DOD and National Guard officials that civilians may not distinguish between Guardsmen and active duty military personnel in uniform, which may lead to the perception that the border is militarized.”

The GAO is clear about the price paid by this bureaucratic run-around. For example, by using the National Guard instead of active duty forces: the use of Guardsmen “for long-term missions in an involuntary status may have an adverse effect on future National Guard recruitment and retention.”

Encircled by Red Tape

(3) Government senility, sclerosis, and senescence

After 235 years, our government is bound by self-imposed rolls of red tape: all these “concerns”, rules, and useful but over-applied laws. Defining defending the border as “law enforcement,” so that the military cannot assist as needed, is quite mad. Guarding our borders is the primary job of the US military. Patrolling the Mexican border was one of the Army’s major peacetime missions from 1846 until the Border Patrol was formed in 1924.

Also quite mad is that the President can more easily order invasions of foreign lands than order troops to protect our borders. Under the War Powers Resolution of 1973, the President can deploy US troops for 90 days without Congressional action. But we are told that Trump cannot order troops to protect the border.

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(4) Why the military is a useful tool for securing the border

Much of the border is desolate and inhospitable. Army and Marines are better trained and equipped for such duty than the unionized Border Patrol agents. They can conduct extended patrols, continuously surveilling large areas. Also, many of the intruders are heavily armed (one Border Patrol agent recommended to a friend that we use tanks in some areas).

For a clear statement of the obvious see “Building the Mexican border wall” by Douglas Macgregor (Colonel, US Army, retired) in the Washington Times. See his Wikipedia entry and one of his book, Transformation Under Fire: Revolutionizing How America Fights. Color added.

“The obvious choice to man the border and supervise construction is the United States’ regular Army. From roughly 1846 to 1948, America’s border with Mexico was guarded by the regular Army of the United States. …

“Today’s regular Army is filled with soldiers, sergeants, lieutenants and captains that have secured Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan and Iraq’s border with its Syrian and Iranian neighbors. Like their predecessors that secured the Cold War inter-German and Czechoslovak Borders, these Army veterans have both the technical expertise and the personal experience with difficult rules of engagement to rapidly secure the border with Mexico.

“Naturally, the logic of this approach would collide with the contemporary use of Army forces to secure other peoples’ borders from the demilitarized zone on the Korean peninsula to Iraq and Syria.”

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