Read this, then come back. Don’t worry; it’s a short one.
The headline reads “Guardsmen overrun at the border.” Apparently a gang of armed guys (thugs? drug dealers? Mexican soldiers? who knows) stormed an observation post, forcing the soldiers there to flee.
I don’t know about you, but to me, the situation screams “lock and load.”
From the get-go, I suspected that the deployment of National Guard troops to the Mexican border was just a political ploy; just a half-hearted move by a government that doesn’t seem to give a damn about our territorial integrity. I had vain hope that I was wrong – in my usual grandiose way, I pictured Guardsmen striding along the arid border region in full battle rattle, looking south with steely-eyed resolve, rifles in hand. Of course, it was not to be, since the last thing anyone seems to want to do is give Guard soldiers actual weapons with live ammunition. Anyone who knows anything about the Guard (or the Army, really) knows how a weird weapon-phobic culture pervades the organization. Sending soldiers to the border to assist the Border Patrol without ammunition (apparently they do have weapons, according to reports) sounds like the height of absurdity to most people, but I don’t find it at all surprising. It’s another symptom of the extreme risk-aversion that the military has developed.
Obviously this situation isn’t just about weapons – it’s also about rules of engagement (ROE). I’m sure the soldiers down there are operating under the strictest possible ROE, where if they were to even spit in the direction of a border interloper they’d be censured. This leads to my ultimate point: why can’t we have armed soldiers of the United States Army patrolling our national border, permitted to stop unauthorized entry? Isn’t that what the military – and particularly, the National Guard – is for? For defending the nation against foreign invasion? For that is exactly what this represents: an invasion with the tacit (if not explicit) support of the Mexican government.
For those ready with claims of racism: certainly, there are Mexican immigrants who want nothing but a better life for themselves and their families. But there are many who are criminals, gangsters, thugs – and possibly worse. If terrorists aren’t using the porous southern border for trafficking arms and personnel, then they’re dumber than we thought and obviously pose no threat to us. But if they have an iota of sense, they will (or already have) traveled across the border from Mexico, and from there, any path lies open to them. To me, it seems inevitable.
Deploying a mechanized infantry brigade along the border would certainly help deter such activity, but of course that will never happen. Instead, we’ll keep sending unarmed soldiers to the border to “observe” and “report” so that the politicians can say that they’re doing something about homeland security without actually having to commit to any real measures.