January 1, 2006  

Standing Army not needed

The biggest mission creep the Regular Army faces is its continued existence.

Now that the Cold War is over, we have no more possessions to guard in China and the Philippines, and the Indians, Mexicans, British and Spanish no longer require what little constabulary forces we needed in the first 150 years of our existence as a nation.

The default peacetime defense establishment the founders originally intended is the National Guard, whose existence is guaranteed by the Second Amendment, plus a federal navy.

The only justification for a large standing army is to deal with foreign threats that are overseas or directly on our borders and pose an immediate, present and sustained threat to the continental United States.

The threats posed by weapons of mass destruction delivered through the air do not require modular brigades or expeditionary forces, and WMDs delivered by stealth are the responsibility of the police powers of the states and the nation.

The biggest successes against terrorist networks have been through cooperation among our CIA and FBI and their counterparts in foreign countries.

The standing force we need to keep foreign threats from developing overseas is today more a function of nation-building than nation-busting.

Even nation-busting requires nation-building.

This is what the Army has been doing for the past 20 years, and missions like hurricane relief are the best form of experience.

The appearance of U.S. ships, aircraft and troops in Indonesia during the tsunami recovery totally reversed the attitudes of the Indonesian people toward us.

The American people will not continue to support sustained rotational expeditionary warfare with either their taxes or blood.

It may be time to restore the original peacetime establishment the founders intended, particularly since the Guard costs one-third to one-sixth as much to maintain the same capabilities.

Lt. Col. Gordon S. Fowkes (ret.)

Sugar Land, Texas