Friday, February 17, 2017

Gasp! The National Guard is not a police force.

I missed, thankfully, the original AP story on this one, so the rebuttal from the White House was the first news I had of the story. Here's how Time reported that:
The White House is pushing back against a report that it is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops round up undocumented immigrants.
The Associated Press reported this morning that an 11-page document would call for the National Guard to be called up in 11 states, including some not along the Mexican border, to round up undocumented immigrants.
The memo was written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, according to the AP, and would give governors in those states final say on whether to participate.
"That is 100% not true," White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters. "It is false. It is irresponsible to be saying this. ... There is no effort at all to round up, to utilize the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants."
Spicer would not say whether this idea was ever floated somewhere within the Administration.
As a total initial aside, in my line of work I deal with illegal aliens from time to time, and they always refer to themselves, in my experience, as "illegal". This whole "undocumented alien" line is a bunch 1984s double talk. They're illegal aliens. They're also human beings, and usually really darned hard working ones.  Whatever a person thinks of this situation one way or another, coming up with weird terms to define them is, well, silly.

Anyhow, I'm glad I didn't see the original report, as using the National Guard in this role, assuming that's even legal (and I'm not at all sure it would be) would be insane.  My prediction is that it would go very poorly with the Guard on top of it, which has fought for well over a century not to be viewed as some sort of police force.  They're soldiers, not police.

Using soldiers as police (assuming its legal, and I'm not too sure it is) is a hideous idea.  When I was a Guardsman myself I was always impressed by that.  I joined the Guard nine years after the Kent State disaster and what always struck me about that is that I wasn't surprised they'd shot the protestors. Solders aren't trained towards restraint, like policemen are. That doesn't mean I think they should have shot. Rather, if you train all the time towards shooting an opposing force, your training for not shooting is pretty thin.

Frankly, I think that if the Administration did try to use the Guard in this fashion it'd spark widespread resistance to this in the Guard and at the State level. Guardsmen are state troops until Federalized and Governors have not been shy in the past about resisting deployments they didn't approve of.  That was the case on a widespread level during the Spanish American War and it sparked a split in some states which has lasted until the present day in which age old units became two units, one a Federally recognized National Guard and another a state militia recognized only on the state level. That split was so strong that it lasted even throughout World War One and Two and into the present day in some places.

The Guard, moreover, is a pretty significant part of the overall defense picture.  Wars since September 11, 2001, have really taxed it as many units have repeatedly been called into service.  Using them in this fashion would be a terrible idea and likely would lead to pretty rapid unit attrition.

Anyhow, hopefully whatever was going on here goes away quickly.

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