Thursday, June 26, 2008

GWOT and the Second Amendment

The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the District of Columbia’s gun law as it pertains to guns in the home has been heralded as the liberation of a long repressed personal Constitutional right to own guns. This misses the point of the Second Amendment as it was intended by the Founders and those who ratified the original Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The original Constitution as written did not include certain rights that the states and citizens had taken for granted, and insisted that those rights were spelled out as a condition of their passage of the Constitution. Those rights included Freedom of Speech and Religion, preservation of the Common Law as the rules of engagement in court, and others as well as the Second Amendment concerning the right of a state to have a well regulated militia.

It is ironic that those who herald the current ruling as if it were some great blow for freedom while the worst assault on the Second Amendment in our history has been waged by the Pentagon on the state militias, of which most are in the National Guard, and which are emulated in spirit by the ReServe forces of the military services.

The Founders and the legislatures of the original states of the union were fearful of a large standing federal military force that would provide the national government with a military capability to suppress Willy nilly the states. Their fears were not only based on the depredations of British troops and Hessians in British pay to repress the rights of Englishmen as known under the British Constitution at the time of the start of the Revolution. What they fought against the British, they did not want from a Federal government.

The political tradition of concern with a large standing long serving professional national Army was dealt with in the United Kingdom by a reliance on a large long serving professional Royal Navy, a small highly professional British Army, and loads of Colonial and Imperial troops who weren’t stationed in Jolly Auld England.

The experience of a large professional long serving army, the New Model Army of Oliver Cromwell, was that of a military dictatorship in which Britain was broken up into military districts managed by Major Generals who enforced Puritan bans on cosmetics, gambling, dancing, fornicating, and other basic rights of the people. After Ollie died, his son wasn’t up to the job and the military brought the Stuart Kings back. See the film “Restoration” with Meg Ryan and Robert Downey for historical details.

The Stuarts tippled too much in the other direction and a solid Hollander was brought in to smooth things over. Their brief dynasty was succeeded by bringing in a King from Hannover, Germany, but directed that no German troops under the King’s control would be allowed to serve in Britain, Ireland, and/or Scotland. The King’s German Legion provided good service to the UK well through the Napoleonic Wars.

Given that colorful background, the Americans who ratified the Second Amendment thought they were making sure that no one would interfere with the Basic Rights of an American as had the New Model Army. Our default military establishment was that of reliance on a very small regular long serving professional force to man the coastal fortifications, and the forts and patrols in the Wild West. This was expanded courtesy of Teddy Roosevelt acting without any real authority when he ordered Admiral George Dewey to attack the Spanish Fleet in Manila Bay. That brought the US into the Far East big time and in short order we had garrison’s in the Philippines and Shanghai, and an Asiatic Fleet of mostly brown and green water vessels ….including the Panay.

The World Wars brought us to build a seriously big standing temporary force to defeat the Hun and Hirohito. The usual dismantling after WW 2 was interrupted by the Cold War, Korea, and Vietnam. Once the Cold War ended, and with no need to man the forts in Indian Territory or coastal batteries of really big cannons, or of stationing troops overseas, the rationale for a long serving permanent force has not yet been justified in terms of the kinds of contingencies used in previous mobilizations and deployments.

President George HW Bush recognized that the Cold War establishment was no longer justified, and started the dismantling process continued by Bill Clinton, a move heralded by business conservatives as the “peace dividend”.

It was necessary to invent a replacement for the Cold War, or any serious flare up by the minions of evil on the frontiers of freedom. And thus was born, Transformational Rotational Modular Expeditionary Objective personnel and toy centric Whack-A-Mole Warfare in which the legions of liberty on the frontiers of freedom were to be repositioned in Festung Kansas in order to be closer to Pentastan, but without checking out the enemy and terrain thereof.

Feeling threatened by the dread possibility of a Return to Normalcy that would put too many field grades in the unemployment lines, the Pentagon resorted to the time honored tool of killing off the competition. Thus ensued the War on the Guard and ReServes waged through the elimination of sexy stuff like fighter planes and combat units, to be replaced by replacementalism as it played out in the Balkan and Early OEF/OIF partial mobilizations, likely known as the Great Cherry Pick AKA “Operational Reserve”.

Fortunately, even the Pentagon is learning, albeit at a glacial pace that Guard and ReServe forces due to Dual Careerism are likely better at Full Spectrum warfare in which experience in a real world outside the gates of Ft Swampeigh.

While the Service School systems are adapting to a new and vital doctrine to apply to the full spectrum of needs for which the military is best suited. What is missing, is the reason, in objective terms to justify a large standing long serving professional force after Terror is defeated (if ever). Will we need to keep inventing threats or crises to maintain promotion flow point and opportunity for the field grades of tomorrow?

While I believe there is a need for a response to a definable array of threats and crises which would include long serving professional standing forces, we need more justification for the size and composition than the needs to maintain a crop of field grade officers and career progression, or to maintain the toys of the favored few in the competition for the A-Ring.

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