During 2015 we have seen an abundance of civil disturbances, national disasters, and increase of illegal crossings of our southern border. Our civilian police are outnumbered in many cases, our fire fighting and prevention agencies drastically unable to cope with huge fires, and our border patrol stretched beyond their capacity to defend the southern border. When things get too overwhelming we call upon our different state national guards to provide civilian and property protection. But what type of training do these armed soldiers really have? They are primarily trained as soldiers to defend militarily or attack when called upon. They are provided basic training as military soldiers, train one weekend a month, and two weekends a year. While they do have some limited CPR, firefighting, and military police training (sometimes) it is not enough for when they are called upon to be activated to assist local or state governments. It only makes sense to give these men and women extra special training they can use throughout the year when they are called upon for service within our country that is not military based.
In our western states every year we have had an increase in huge fires that destroy countless homes and sometimes lives. National guard units in these states should be given intensive fire fighting skills to undertake such missions when called upon. Fighting fires is not just throwing water on a fire or digging trenches. It is a highly skilled profession that requires much training in each state. There are specific things a firefighter must know in order to be effective and not get hurt—brush versus timber fires or house fires.
Therefore, additional training should be given at local national guard units throughout each western state by the local fire departments. The full-time firemen when not fighting fires are training but often times just waiting. They are allready there being paid. So why not let them train the state guard units so that when these units are called upon to assist them, they are integrated into one large unit with skills and more local knowledge of the geographical area. Perhaps state grants can be given to purchase firefighting uniforms. We give academic grants to study what some people call silly things; Pay people to play video games, train chinese prostitutes to drink responsible, and how americans use the internet to find love (Snyder, M 2012), then why not something that is valuable and useful?
Obviously, first aid and other medical training can also be provided. Learning how to use fire fighting equipment and basic tools should be given. The benefits of this training are not just merely for using to fight fires, but also it might increase enlistment into our state guard units by giving them some “pre training” should members wish to pursue a firefighting career. Besides during war, having a more broad knowledge and experience about knowing how to fight fires is a good thing.
Hurricane and Flood Areas
All along the East coast several times a year we call upon guard units to assist FEMA, fire departments, and local police when there are major hurricanes. Annual high flood times along the Mississippi River and others, always cause much property damage. In both cases there is ample warning of the pending dangers. At least a few days warning, but because it is impossible to vacate large areas which might or might not become dangerous most people just stay. This increases the risk of personal injury or death and requires more people searching and rescuing them after a storm.
Roads and buildings are damaged, people get stuck in high water areas, and often times they are in danger of dying from drowning or falling debris. Guard units are typically called out for search and rescue and afterward to restore order. But often times they are not called out until a few days later. If a state could call them out earlier they could greatly reduce the chance of loss of life, but this involves political and financial considerations by the state governments. Guard members should be trained in water rescue, CPR, and civilian law enforcement such as search and seizure laws. Units should beforehand know which roads become flooded, assist in placing high water warning signs, and traffic control at roads. This would lesson the manpower required by departments of transportation, the highway patrols, and in rural areas where sheriff’s patrol if they have police powers.
In the last few years we have seen an unprecedented number of black/white tensions boiling to the point of riots. While guard units do have some training in military policing, not all do. None have any training in civilian police laws or regulations. They should, to avoid any illegal arrests or detentions they might make. Also, training in reducing conflicts must be given. They are there to restore order and protect property. This must be shown to the protestors as they are there to help and not incite more violence. Police departments can not defend or protect during these times as they do not have enough officers. Familiarity between local officers and guard units must be accomplished so that when they are called upon to work together there is a relationship between them.
Utilizing the armed forces has been done before. But again there is no training in federal border patrol regulations and federal laws concerning illegal entry into our country. We have an overwhelming problem at the border and using federal troops is completely legal by executive action should the White House deem so. On the border we should be using guard units during their monthly duty to supplement our border patrol agents. Guard units in the countries along the border can easily do this as they are there already. This could be their monthly training duty. A huge free amount of federally paid guard units to help out. They can assist other full time soldiers that might in the future be assigned there. This is not a new idea for using the military at home with proper training and special federal appointments as deputized federal agents *1.
The problem is they have no formal training or education about civil rights and federal enforcement of stop, search, and seizure issues. In addition to this many do not speak spanish. What this article suggests is teaching southern national guard units spanish at each monthly required duty meeting and teaching them federal laws concerning border protection. In addition, courses in communication skills and observation techniques. All of this can be useful in an emergency. These units are supplement border patrol and local police departments and should we encounter terrorists crossing the border they will have the necessary skills to help out. After all they are soldiers defending or might be called to defend our country.
Major Homeland Terrorist Attack
When we were attacked by extreme radical muslim islamist on 911 the guard units were called to action in many areas. They provided search and rescue, assisted in medical first aid, and provided civil security. However, because of a lack of planning and training often it was delayed. What has been implemented in many areas is preparation for the next attack by the murdering islamists. What is needed is an ongoing review of strategic installations and protection at major civil use areas. Including power plants, bridges, sports facilities, and hospitals. Intimate rapid response knowledge of the layouts of these areas and the members that provide security for them. Although we have local police and private security for these places, in a major attack the more rapid and well trained resources we have could save lives and potentially catch the muslims that attack us.
Our national guard units are very busy fighting two wars and make up over half of our soldiers in the middle east. Yet hundreds of thousands are still here at home training each month and two weeks a year—for combat. This article acknowledges that many are full-time police, firefighters, and EMS personnel. Yet most are not. They are on occasion called upon and activated to provide assistance to the states they serve when a natural disaster occurs or in the event of civil unrest. However there is a lack of special training for these types of events in specific areas of our country. Training such as fire fighting, first responders, search and rescue, riot control, and border patrol should be done. Our citizen soldiers must have knowledge about civilian laws when they are activated to operate within our country. They train frequently for combat, but most of the time they are not being used for that. These added skills can be beneficial in times of chaos at home and perhaps lead to an increase enlistment into our of citizen soldiers.
1. Kuch, Christopher B. “Utilizing Armed Forces Personnel as U.S. Marshalls.” Law Enforcement Today. July 17, 2015.
2. Snyder, Michael “30 stupid Things the Government is Spending Money on.” End of The American Dream.Com
Dr. Kuch holds a PhD, MA, and MS in criminal justice. He has written about a variety of police and military issues. His current research is about preventative terrorism policies. He lives in Istanbul, Turkey and is on the adjunct faculty at Galatasaray University.