Bush proposes expanding military's role in emergencies

Bush is broaching the idea of expanding the U.S. military’s role in keeping order during domestic emergencies such as the recent hurricanes. http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/09/26/bush.military/index.html Critics say this would violate or erode the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which forbids the military (under most circumstances) from performing any domestic policing role. (The Act was originally enacted to prevent Federal troops from supervising elections in the post-Reconstruction South.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posse_Comitatus_Act What do you think? Do we need this? Is there any danger of abuse?

Wouldn’t it just be easier to send the military to fight wars and leave the National Guard at home to do emergency work?

Bush, meet the Constitution.

Constitution, meet the idiot, ermmmm, moooooron, ermmm, Bush.

Separation of State and Federal thingies is gooooooooooooood.

Mixing of State and Federal thingies is baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad.

(Ab)using US military forces as first repsonders is baaaaaaaaaaad.

(Ab)using National Guard assets as Federal Military assets is baaaaaaaaad.

We should really try to certify these blunt-skulls in constitutional law before allowing them to take the oath of office.

You folks really ought to make up your minds on this one.

After all, part of the beef with the old Guard setup was that those units were seldom activated for battle. That meant that a Guard soldier could seek it as a form of military service that didn’t put his life in significant risk.

That led to political abuses of those units in wartime and their erosion as fighting assets.

In response to this situation, the Guard was reformed post Vietnam to be more closely integrated with the active military. That led to better training for Guard units, and oftentimes their expansion. That left those units were far better equipped to handle both war and disasters at home.

The size of our current Guard system cannot be justified unless they are available for battle. Take away this requirement and they’ll be less well equipped for disasters.

There is a solution, though. Several states have established home guard units that are not part of the National Guard. They are answerable only to the governor, and cannot be federalized. They take up the slack when the National Guard is federalized, and assist in disasters within the borders of the state only.

This is my state’s force webpage, as an example.

For clarity’s sake, I don’t think that’s the beef with this. I think it’s more that a political figure could use their Guard experience – often gotten through string-pulling via the “old boy” network – to equate themselves with those who (willingly) risked going into battle. A false patina of patriotism, if you will. In other words, it’s not the domestic/foreign split of duties, it’s the “political abuses” themselves that you mention. In fact, the mere presence of the “state guard units” indicates that the split is desirable (although perhaps it should not be done at the federal level, as the Guard is).

Or maybe that’s just me.

How does this proposed solution link with the actual problems that occurred after Hurricane Katrina?

This is incredibly dangerous. Setting aside any slippery slope arguments, the military is good at breaking shit and killing people, not “disaster relief”. This is knee-jerk response to the federal governments perceived shortcomings after hurricane Katrina.

Who is “you folks”? Is Seven one of them folks? Am I? Can you publish a list or more specific description? I’d like to participate in this discussion, but I want to make sure I won’t get immediately written off has a flip-flopper.

That’s fair. I apologize for ascribing this view to any people here.

I do think it points toward a general debate about how big the Guard ought to be and what role it should have.

As far as the military’s role, Bruce_Daddy, it is what it is determined to be by Congress and the president. If there is a need for the military to assume a role here, I have no doubt they’d do it well, provided the right equipment and training are provided.

Because if we could have sent in the military we could have simply thrown bodies into the flooded areas, especially the flooded roadways, and then we could have had an easier time moving into the area. Q.E.D. really. :wink:

Its a knee jerk reaction to try and ‘fix’ a ‘problem’ that is incredibly complex and maybe even fundamental to how our system currently works by slapping a bandaid on the wound and then going back to sleep. Its an incredibly stupid idea (from what I see of it so far) IMHO and I hope to the gods that enough folks see it for the stupid and simplistic tripe it is and do a smack down on old GW on this one.


Historically, the expanded role of the military in domestic emergencies eventually becomes “correcting” elections with improper outcomes, if you get my drift. Bad idea.

Not really. Canada’s military participated in disaster relief after the ice storm in Quebec in 1998 and in firefighter support in B.C. in 2003. The coup continues to fail to loom.



Doesn’t our military have enough to do?

That said, it does seem like establishing a military presence on our soils in domestic situations is a bad scene. Sure, we all agree a hurricane is a disaster, but were the LA Riots? Was the WTO protest in Seattle one?

A little more far-fetchedly, would the transfer of power during the next election need to be “protected”?

This is fixing a problem that didn’t need to be fixed, IMO. It may be a nice soundbite to try and recover Bush’s reputation after his fumbling of Katrina, but it ignores the fact that the fix wouldn’t be necessary if a big chunk of the National Guard weren’t already in Iraq fighting that Damn Fool War™.

Seven whole years. Give your country a couple of decades, my friend.

Domestic military operations go back more than seven years. But based on what I’ve seen since the most recent domestic disasters, I won’t exactly be holding my breath waiting for the coup.

Hey, if there is a coup and it can be shown to have stemmed from disaster relief operations, I’ll happily admit to being wrong.

Provided I can smuggle a message out, that is.

So far as I know the President is permitted to federalize the national guard of any state. If it wasn’t unconstitutional for Ike to do it in Little Rock why is it unconstitutional these days?


My understanding is that except with respect to using the military as police, there are no legal problems with using the military for disaster relief.

In Brazil the policy is that any local military commander may act in case of natural disasters through his own initiative. The notion being that the military are trained to act and work in chaotic situations. Also it avoids delays while the military waits for permission a thousand miles away…

I seriously doubt someone could abuse this even in the US. Disaster areas aren’t nice places to start revolutions or takeovers. I bet other countries have their military well integrated to their emergency plans. I doubt military units state side are that “busy” that they can’t lend a hand…

Right. Wouldn’t it be better to perhaps create a national disaster relief force, specifically trained in such, given no police powers or arms? And just downsize the military to create a potential source for these new federal jobs? If addiltional “police” are deemed necessary, the state’s governor could call them to the scene. By doing these things, we might be able to make it revenue neutral and avoid posse comitatus entanglements.