by Laurence M. Vance
by Laurence M. Vance
Hence likewise they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown Military establishments, which under any form of Government are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty.
~ George Washington, Farewell Address
The Department of Homeland Security was established by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (PL 107-296). It became operational in January of 2003. It is the third largest cabinet department in the federal government, with 180,000 employees and a budget of $46 billion. The mission statement of the Homeland Security Department includes this statement: "We will prevent and deter terrorist attacks and protect against and respond to threats and hazards to the nation."
Why, then, do we need a Department of Defense? And conversely, if the mission of the Defense Department is to defend the country, then why do we need a Department of Homeland Security?
The truth of the matter is that the Department of Defense, which couldn't defend its own headquarters, is misnamed. Rather than guarding our borders, patrolling our coasts, and protecting our citizens, the DOD is focused on — because of our interventionist foreign policy — invading the next country and fighting the next foreign war.
This is not exactly the picture one gets from DOD 101: An Introductory Overview of the Department of Defense, found on the Department's website.
According to the opening paragraph of DOD 101, the Department of Defense is America's oldest, largest, busiest, and most successful company. Although the DOD was actually created in 1949, two of its divisions are in fact quite old. The War Department was established in 1789 and the Navy Department in 1798. In 1947 the Department of War became the Department of the Army and the Department of the Air Force was created. These three departments were all united under the umbrella of the Department of Defense in 1949. Although the DOD should never be termed a company, it is indeed very large, employing over 1.3 million people on active duty, 669,281 civilian personnel, and 1.1 million in the National Guard and Reserve. There is also no question that the DOD is quite busy. But is the DOD America's most successful company? The DOD failed to protect the country on September 11th, 2001. The DOD failed to protect its headquarters on the same date. The only thing of late that the DOD has been successful at is bombing, maiming and killing foreigners, and spending over $200 million a day of the taxpayers' money on a failed war.
Under the heading of "Our Global Infrastructure," DOD 101 informs us that
The Defense Department manages an inventory of installations and facilities to keep Americans safe. The Department's physical plant is huge by any standard, consisting of more than several hundred thousand individual buildings and structures located at more than 5,000 different locations or sites. When all sites are added together, the Department of Defense utilizes over 30 million acres of land.
There is no mention of the fact that there are over 700 U.S. military bases on foreign soil.
However, we are told in "Worldwide Presence" that "Department of Defense employees work in more than 163 countries. 450,925 troops and civilians are overseas both afloat and ashore. We operate in every time zone and in every climate." That is quite an admission. The presence of U.S. troops in foreign countries is something that I have written about many times (most recently here). For those critics of mine who continue to deny that my figures are accurate, will you also question this admission by the DOD?
To show just how large the DOD is, the next section of DOD 101 compares the military budget and the number of DOD employees to the budgets and numbers of employees of Wal-Mart, Exxon-Mobil, GM, and Ford. But is it a good thing that the DOD spends more money and employs more people than the largest U.S. corporations? No one who works for Wal-Mart, Exxon-Mobil, GM, or Ford costs the taxpayers a dime. The military budget for fiscal year 2006 is stated to be $419 billion. But not only did the DOD actually spend $499 billion, economist Robert Higgs has estimated that the true amount spent by the United States on defense during fiscal year 2006 was actually $934 billion. This means that defense-related spending for fiscal year 2008 will actually top $1 trillion for the first time in history, accounting for about one-third of the total federal budget.
Under the heading of "We Hire the Best," we are told that "the Department of Defense mission is accomplished seeking out our nation's best and brightest." Is that why the Army has relaxed standards, lowered the physical fitness requirements for women, increased waivers for medical problems, and raised the maximum-age limit to 42? Is that why the Army now accepts lower entrance scores on aptitude tests, grants more "moral waivers" to allow convicted criminals to enlist, allows more applicants with gang tattoos, and allows non-citizens to gain their citizenship after only one year of active duty? And now it has come to light that military recruiters have helped applicants cheat on drug tests.
According to DOD 101 section "We Instill Values," the core values of the Defense Department are leadership, professionalism, and technical know-how. Furthermore, "We constantly build and reinforce core values that everyone wearing a uniform must live by: duty, integrity, ethics, honor, courage, and loyalty." But are these the only values that the military instills? There is no mention in this section about other values like mistreating non-combatants, destroying civilian property, torturing prisoners, and not reporting the abuses perpetrated by fellow soldiers.
Not only does DOD 101 compare the Defense Department to a company, it also uses the language of the corporate world. Under the heading of "Who We Work For," we are informed that the chief executive officer is the president, the members of Congress serve as the board of directors, and the American people are the stockholders. But what kind of a corporation ever forced people to own its stock?
The section titled "Services Train and Equip" contains some startling admissions. The Army is said to defend "the land mass of the United States, its territories, commonwealths, and possessions." But then we are told that the Army "operates in more than 50 countries." Although our Navy's aircraft carriers are "stationed in hotspots that include the Far East, the Persian Gulf, and the Mediterranean Sea," there is no mention of our Navy patrolling our coasts. The Air Force "routinely participates in peacekeeping, humanitarian, and aeromedical evacuation missions, and actively patrols the skies above Iraq [and] Bosnia." We also read that "Air Force crews annually fly missions into all but five nations of the world." One would get the impression in reading DOD 101 that the Air Force doesn't do anything related to defending the United States. The National Guard and Reserve are also mentioned in this section. In addition to providing "wartime military support" and undertaking "humanitarian and peacekeeping operations," the Guard and Reserve "are essential to, and are integral to the Homeland Security portion of our mission." Here is an admission by the DOD that the security of the homeland is only a portion of its mission. There is no mention, of course, about reenlistment rates for the Guard and Reserve being at an all-time low because of the war in Iraq.
In the section titled "Unified Commanders," we read about the Northern Command, which "oversees the defense of the continental United States." But why do we have a European Command, which "covers more than 13 million square miles and includes 93 countries and territories, to include Iceland, Greenland, the Azores, more than half of the Atlantic ocean, the Caspian sea, and Russia"? There is also a Central Command, which "oversees the balance of the Mid-East, parts of Africa and west Asia, and part of the Indian Ocean," a Southern Command, which "guards U.S. interests in the southern hemisphere, including Central America, South America, and the Caribbean," and a Pacific Command, which "covers 50 percent of the Earth's surface including Southwest Asia, Australia."
The longest section in DOD 101 is titled "September 11, 2001: Day of Terror." Here we discover that although "there are currently 70 nations supporting the global war on terrorism," to date "21 nations have deployed more than 16,000 troops to the U.S. Central Command's region of responsibility." No countries are listed, probably because the "coalition of the willing" includes such world powers as Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Poland, and Romania. We are also told that "though there has been significant progress, the war on terror continues." I don't know what the DOD means by progress, unless it is referring to the over 3,700 soldiers who died for a lie in Iraq, the 152,000 veterans who filed disability claims after fighting in the war on terror, the 70 female U.S. soldiers who have now been killed fighting in Iraq, or the estimated 655,000 Iraqis who have died since the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The next part of DOD 101 is called "Homeland Security and Homeland Defense." This section contains more lies than any other:
- The Department of Defense contributes to homeland security through its military missions overseas.
- Ongoing military operations abroad have reduced the terrorist threat against the United States.
- The Department of Defense is responsible for homeland defense.
I think rather that the Department of Defense contributes to the instability of the world through its military missions overseas. I believe instead that ongoing military operations abroad have increased terrorism. And if the Department of Defense is responsible for homeland defense, then why do we need a Department of Homeland Security?
Under the heading "What We Do," the closing paragraph reads: "Whether it's saving lives, protecting property or keeping the peace, the U.S. military stands at the ready to keep America strong and free." Saving lives? Protecting property? Keeping the Peace? Does the Defense Department really think that Americans are that naïve? In actuality, the DOD does just the opposite: wasting lives, destroying property, and destroying the peace.
The purpose of the U.S. military should be to defend the United States. That's it. Nothing more. Using the military for anything else perverts the purpose of the military. It is not the purpose of the U.S. military to spread democracy or goodwill, remove dictators, change a regime, fight communism or Islam, train foreign armies, open foreign markets, protect U.S. commercial interests, provide disaster relief, or provide humanitarian aid. The U.S. military should be engaged exclusively in defending the United States, not defending other countries, and certainly not attacking them. Now that is real DOD 101.
September 7, 2007
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from Pensacola, FL. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State. His latest publication is War, Foreign Policy, and the Church. Visit his website.
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