It’s Time to Rethink The Department of Homeland Security

Admiral Gortney USN, the former head of NORAD and NORTHCOM, once told us that threats to the United States of incoming missiles from the 10 and 2 O’clock position.  The Russians and Iranians are an emerging threat at 2 O’clock and the Chinese and North Koreans augmenting their missile capabilities are a threat at 10 O’clock.

But what about an important clear and present strategic danger today from a different direction?

Right now a strategic hybrid-war threat is at our southern border, geographically at the 6:00 O’clock position.

Are we able to stop this migratory flow of unknown and un-vetted cohort of illegal invaders?  So far, there is a growing number of individuals -- of the good, the bad and the evil sorts -- trying to enter the country illegally.

Why are we still saddled with the top leadership at the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security that cannot figure out how to deploy a military and civilian force to secure our southern border?

We can spend trillions of dollars operating in distant lands and do counter-insurgency and build Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) to pacify a country like Afghanistan while the population inundation from failed states from the South remains unchecked?

From Nation Building to Counter-Insurgency, to Stability Ops, whatever that means, tremendous treasure has been squandered with limited progress as the US begins to face deadly peer-to-peer adversaries. The assumption that the US can drain treasure and blood in the endless war while we refocus on peer competitors, who are directly threatening the United States at home and abroad is simply misplaced.

A direct 21st Century threat to the safety and security of all Americans is the current growth of transnational criminal syndicates.  Mexican drug cartels are a good example, but others include cross-border terrorist cells, and now leftist agitators that, sadly, are using innocents as provocative propaganda examples to violate and negate the laws of the United States.

It is difficult to understand why the Department of Defense is ramping up engagements in Afghanistan and Syria when our own borders are unprotected.

We have heard about failed states, but what about failed agencies unable to help protect the United States against the outpouring from the failed states to our South?

Secretary Mattis has had many pithy quotes but one stands out “I keep other people awake at night.” But apparently he does not trust his troops’ integrity to follow any legally established Rules of Engagement (ROE) if appropriately armed:

“They’re not even carrying guns — so just relax,” Mattis explained, speaking to reporters on Wednesday just hours after the White House issued its “use of force” order.

“Don’t worry about it.”

What about this gem of a Secretary Mattis quote: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

It has been estimated that there are over 500 criminals and an unknown number of  terrorists are all trying to sneak in by hiding in the hoard of people trying to rush through our southern border check points.

Since Speaker Ryan thwarted the President’s quest for a continuous wall and American military intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) is the best in the world why do individuals and groups still infiltrate continuously?

For example, where is a visible ISR deterrence show of force all along the border using Military helo support?  If the US military can build forward operating bases in the Middle East, why can they not find a way to do so in the long rugged terrain along our Southern border?

This evolving and soon to be an historical moment in answering the question “Do we have a Nation or not?” has seen terrible institutional failure. The troika of DHS/Iraq Invasion/Afghan stability ops still dominates the national agenda.

 It is time to shift from this unholy trinity of legacies and take a fresh start.

End the forever war in Afghanistan:

General Mattis USMC (ret) and now Defense Secretary Mattis has been at the highest levels of leadership fighting the Afghan war for almost 25% of the time the war has gone on and it has recently been declared a stalemate after 17+ years of combat.

It is now appropriate to critically asses with very clear focus the performance of DHS in this moment of crisis.

Since DHS was hastily assembled after the 9/11 events, elements of a ramshackle agency still persist.  In looking at lessons being learned daily in this time of testing, it is time to look at pulling it apart and rebuilding DHS.  Perhaps the President and Congress can focus on this task in the period ahead.

In a seminal article, Jose R. Olivares, a combat Vietnam Veteran and a Founding Member of the US Department of Homeland Security in March 2003 makes a strong case for DHS reform, by asking?

How is it that the current Director of USCIS (US Citizen and Immigration Services is not heard from in the current news cycles? Instead, leading the news cycle on the caravan pending immigration disaster is the Secretary of Homeland Security; who is clueless about the pending real disaster.

Certainly, as a nation welcoming to legal immigration, we need guaranteed security to abort the pending dissolution of our nation by being faced with an ever-growing illegal migrant tide.

President Trump campaigned on the restoration of a sense of what it means be a citizen of the United States. He is the right person at the right time to stop an illegal tide which has made citizenship seem increasingly irrelevant to living in the United States.