«AMERICAN PUBLIC UNIVERSITY SYSTEM Charles Town, West Virginia EXPANDING THE MILITARY’S ROLE IN DOMESTIC DISASTERS:.BUT WHAT OF BATTLE READINESS? A ...»
Reporting the Findings The report of this study will be done by narrative text. This is a qualitative study as such descriptive narrative will be used to paint a picture of the existing situation and the subsequent analysis and conclusions.
The end of the cold war was essentially a crossroads for the U.S. military as the pentagon move to implement its post-Cold War strategy of an expeditionary force concept, with a redefining of threat imperatives to such challenges as peacekeeping, law enforcement, humanitarian assistance and containment of rogue states (Davis, 1998; Karat, 1999; Zadeh,
2006) which required significant reduction in U.S. force strengths. A reduced military of about 75 percent its original size was seen as adequate to meet America’s security and defence needs (Korb, 2000) and to satisfy the call for peace dividends. The strategy required the reduction of uniformed military personnel from 3.3 million to 2.6 million in five years (Korb, 2000). This decision resulted in a 40% cut in Army funding since the end of the Cold War, shortages in officer and non-commissioned officer positions, reduction in field training, major overdeployments and serious recruiting and retention problems. This Base Force reduction also impacted the number of ground divisions, ships and tactical air wings (Cordesman, 1999. p27) The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 which prohibited, under pain of punishment, the use of the military on US soil, was considered one of the primary barriers to military operations in the continental USA. Over the years however the Army was used in several operations in the USA such as the 1970 Indian occupation at Wounded Knee and the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Although no one was ever charged under this Act it had the effect of giving pause
1998). However, in 1981 Congress created a statutory exception to the Posse Comitatus Act to direct the use of the military for drug interdiction efforts on the nation's borders. In 1993 one week after the Oklahoma City bombing President Clinton proposed an exception to the Posse Comitatus Act that would have allowed the military to assist civilian law enforcement agencies in cases involving weapons of mass destruction (Davis, 1998). Subsequent to the terrorist attack on New York and Washington DC on September 11, 2001, the U.S. Government considered the possibility of expanding the role of the military in domestic law enforcement to combat terrorism (ACLU, 1999; Brooks, 2005; Davis, 1998). There were strong reservations against empowering the military in domestic operations as it had legal implications for the Posse Comitatus Act (ACLU, 1999; Brooks, 2005; Davis 1998).
In 2005 Louisiana and Texas were struck by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita respectively, causing significant damage to the built and natural environment and mental and physical trauma and loss of lives 6. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in particular saw a breakdown in law and order, an upsurge in gang violence, widespread looting and other related crimes (Thornton and Voigt, 2007). The response by the state agencies responsible for disaster was seen by many as inadequate, ineffective and inept (H. Rpt. 109-377). In contrast the response of the military with its centralized command structures, heavy lift capacity and trained manpower was seen as the only redeeming factor in a sea of crisis; saving many lives, providing relief for many and responding to the upsurge in crime. This response by the military saw a burgeoning of public goodwill and a call by many, including the President of the United States for a review of the role of the military in domestic operations with a view to their expansion.
Approximately 1,464 persons lost their lives and damages were estimated at $25B source CBC/AP August 30, 2005.
MILITARY DISASTER ROLE VS BATTLE READINESS 39The continuing erosion of the traditional role separation between the military and police forces, by the growing exceptions to the Posse Comitatus Act, may prove to be detrimental over time. Dunlap (1992) warned that military involvement in domestic operations can exposure civilian governments to the threat of military rule and the suspension of constitutional liberties. It would appear that a dangerous threat exist when one compares the increase levels of military involvement in domestic duties before the cold war and present day (Davis, 1998) Military readiness is described as one of the most important elements of military capability as it measures the ability of military forces to fight and accomplish their assigned missions (Spencer, 2000). For troops to meet the nation’s security objectives they must have an appropriate force structure, modernized equipment, maintenance and logistics support and trained and motivated personnel (1995 Annual Defence Report) 7. Army units that are under trained or inappropriately trained are quite likely to experience high causalities and accidents in theatre (Murtha and Obey, 2006) and more than likely, will be unable to achieve mission objectives. The failure to achieve mission objectives is assessed within the context of readiness degradation which is a function of improper or inadequate training, chronic equipment, personnel shortages and funding constraints and administrative mismanagement (Murtha and Obey 2006).
Organizations such as the military, organized around a core function (a fighting tradition) that operate outside of that core function, may suffer a degradation of fighting spirit. Vastly escalating commitment to ancillary duties can inadvertently divert focus and resources from their fundamental role of combat training and war fighting (Dunlap, 1992).
Even though the military have been involved in domestic disasters, in modern times it was always in support of FEMA, a civilian agency responsible for disaster management within
the USA. Even in the “drug war” they acted in support of law enforcement, essentially providing equipment, training and intelligence. The level of destruction occasioned by Katrina and the apparent inability of FEMA to respond to the needs of the affected during Hurricane Katrina saw the military being placed in command of the response effort. Subsequently questions were raised about the ability of a civilian agency to properly respond in major catastrophes and the possibility of expanding the military’s role to assume responsibility for disaster response activities. This resulting national debate has been strident and divisive in many instances. The debate have essentially followed two schools of thought – one supporting the expansion and one seeing danger not only to the battle readiness of the military but the possibility of a military gaining advantage and power within domestic politics.
Research Questions Given consideration to the chronic retention and recruitment problems, dated and deteriorating equipment, resupply issues, reduction in training, weakening middle management structure, and degradation of core fighting skills and the high tempo mission in the Middle East that the military is now faced, can they realistically be expected to effectively meet the demand of their primary role?
Should the military’s role be expanded into non-combat missions – such as emergency management – within the present environment as earlier outlined, how will this affect the attainment of their main role?
The military was always to some extent corralled away from the public. This low level of institutional interaction essentially ensured a symbiotic relations dictated by the separation of functions. What impact will this increase in social interaction have on military civilian relations,
There are obvious benefits that can be derived from the involvement of the military into domestic operations, but are there unforeseen consequences to accepted liberties and freedoms with the continuing involvement of the military in domestic duties?
Hypothesis Expansion of the military’s role in emergency management can seriously impair their ability to "win the nation's wars."
This study took a pointed look at the questions raised and any possible effects that the expansion of the military roles had on their ability to “win the nation’s wars” which directly related to their battle readiness and will attempt to determine whether, the military, can effectively fight and win the nations wars under the present set of conditions that now obtains.
The result of this study will be available to inform future research and to support public policy that pertains to the assigning of roles and the assessment of military preparedness and civil/military operations.
The end of the cold war presented significant opportunities and challenges to the United States as the single hegemonic power with the resources and opportunities to broker regional peace accords and champion a new security infrastructure with promises of a more stable global security environment. However, initial post-Cold War euphoria and rhetoric for global peace and security soon shifted towards new threat assessments, targeting strategies and justifications for high levels of military readiness. What was a initially a unipolar world had moved into a dangerous unstable combination of a uni-multipolar world with the dominant threat portfolio comprising failed states, overambitious regional warlords and ethnic groups and religious
power, to hedge its bets against weaker but determined foes, and consider contingencies and worst-case scenarios involving comparatively weaker and smaller states and non-state actors.
In the absence of the ordering influence of the two superpowers, ethnic and religious rivalries and historical conflict and distrust came to the fore. While the world was no longer threatened with annihilation by nuclear weapons, it became more unstable in the post-Cold War era requiring the United States military to respond to challenges of famine and starvation, civil war, ethnic cleansing and religious persecution, along with the increased incidences of natural and manmade disasters creating humanitarian catastrophes which essentially symbolized the new global normal. In spite of the volatility of this new normal the U.S. government could not let go of the cold war suspicions that exemplified Cold War relationships. Through these lenses the advocates of maintaining a large traditional military during peacetime pointed to North Korea, Iraq, Russia and China as threats to the security of the single super power and the world’s most technologically advanced nation in the world.
Notwithstanding, American officials found it necessary as the benevolent hegemon to export and enforce American virtue, principles, practices, and institutions without consideration to local sensitivities and cultures. In this unilateral drive to enforce American hegemonic aspirations countries were diplomatically pressured to adopt American values and practices regarding human rights and democracy; they were essentially required to adhere to American standards on human rights, drugs, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, missile proliferation, and even religious freedom. Obstacles were created to prevent other countries (Iran, North Korea) from acquiring military capabilities while U.S. forces were involved in conflicts areas around the globe, making many very suspicious of U.S. intent and objectives. This of course did little to
and resentment to Americanism. Within the new multipolar environment where access to weapons and other technology were not vested only under national control, the wherewithal to retaliate in an unconventional but highly effective manner was possible and where access to conventional weaponry was restricted necessity became the mother of invention.
9/11 was a very traumatic event to all Americans and additional to it being a terrorist attack and an overt declaration of hostilities it was also a major disaster event. The trauma was made worse not only because of the destruction of an iconic symbol of Americanism and the loss of lives but because the event impacted a foundation belief that America was protected by two oceans; the perception of American security taken for granted was shattered, America’s vulnerability was laid bare. Where the might of the Soviet empire had failed, a group of goat herders in a third world country had succeeded.
The response to this event came largely from the civil response mechanism. Firefighters, police and other emergency responders made the ultimate sacrifice to save thousands of lives. The shortcomings in this major disaster were not a failure to organize or plan but the cloud of uncertainty surrounding the initial stages of the attack, lack of information which affected the directions and advisement provided to the residents of the towers, interoperability of communication equipment, Standard Operating Procedures and technical language and culture of responders.
Five years after the response to the 2005 Katrina disaster was in stark contrast to that of the 9/11 disaster in many respects. In effect what occurred after the impact of Hurricane Katrina could not be described as a response at all – it was fundamentally a systems failure at all levels of government and throughout the national disaster management mechanism (terradaily.com,
Hurricane on New Orleans, but the reality of the threat and vulnerability did not fully compute with a Department of Homeland Security overly consumed with preventing another 9/11 attack.
However, the scale of this “failure of leadership and initiative” (Hsu, 2006) took on new meaning when one consider that the event was not wholly unexpected as FEMA staff prior to this event had modelled what they described as the “New Orleans scenario” (Berger, 2011) and ranked it as being one of the most critical potential disasters facing the U.S.