To what extent does the Army’s role in the homeland security of the United States blur the lines of authority between strictly military and civil authorities in domestic affairs? What are some of the dangers of greater military involvement in such matters? Is there a threat of demoralization among both civilian and enlisted attitudes toward the military as a result of these actions?
The Army’s Role in Homeland Security
The nation’s Army provides assistance to federal, state and local agencies in times of disasters (manmade or natural), during restoration of critical services, and in public safety matters. The scope of the Army has increased in the 21st century due to the emergence of new threats, mainly from terrorism and terror-related threats in the country. Emerging threats include use of nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, radiological weapons, and cyberattacks. In order to curtail the possibility of attacks or respond to an attack, there is need for greater coordination among the various security organs. There is a clear distinction between the roles of the Army in homeland security and that of the military and civil affairs on the same. In some circumstances, the Army helps the military and civil authorities depending on the nature of the situation on the ground.
The Army has been involved in homeland security for a long time. One of the notable roles in homeland security is defending the borders. The Army supports the civil authorities during emergencies, riots, and natural disasters that overwhelm the civil authorities’ capacity to respond (Davis et al., 2004). The Army is largely involved in helping with smaller activities such as battling forest fires, providing assistance in times of floods, during times of earthquakes, and others. There are hardly any conflicts between the Army and civil authorities in responding to these incidences. This is because the Army only responds when ordered by the President to respond to an incident that overwhelms the civil authority. It is worth noting that there are legal and policy restrictions that must be taken into consideration before calling Army members in active duty in matters pertaining to homeland security.
There are certain dangers to greater military involvement in the domestic affairs of the country. The military exists to protect the country and its allies from foreign invasion. Thus, when the military becomes more involved in domestic affairs, this indicates a deviation from the original purpose for which it was created. This can also lead conflicts and tension between the military and the civil authorities, who may feel their role is being taken by the military. There is the notion that the military should not boss around the citizens; for the military was created to deal with external threats (Davis et al., 2004). Civil authorities have a close connection to communities and neighborhoods compared to the military. Civil authorities are able to interact with communities and obtain crucial information about crime. This makes civil authorities the best in responding to domestic issues in the country.
There is a potential threat to demoralization between both the civilian and enlisted attitudes toward the military. Too much military involvement in homeland security can lead to demoralization among civil authorities since they may perceive that the higher authorities does not have trust or confidence in them to provide internal security (Langeland, 2006). This can be demoralizing for them. There is also the risk of a negative attitude towards the military due to involvement in domestic affairs. Most people are accustomed to dealing with civil authorities in solving various domestic challenges rather than relying on the military.
Davis, L. E., Mosher, D. E., Brennan, R. R., Greenberg, M. D., McMahon., S., & Yost, C. W. M. (20034). Army forces for Homeland security. Retrieved from http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2004/RAND_MG221.pdf
Langeland, T. (2006). Warriors, rescuers, spooks: the U.S. Military’s growing involvement in domestic affairs. Retrieved from http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2006/jan/18/warriors-rescuers-spooks-the-us- militarys-growing/
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