Time's up: Shut down the border
The national security threat at the southern border is extensive and palpable: potential terrorists and saboteurs; general and felonious human traffic; special interest aliens (SIA); weapons and ammunition, explosives, WMD; unchecked disease hazards; illicit drugs, contraband; aerial, subterranean, and submersible traffic.
The commander in chief of the United States has the solemn obligation (and power) to secure America's borders. To that end, all immigration laws are interpreted by the executive to extract enforcement outcomes, and then to muster tools and capabilities required to accomplish them. Immigration laws addressing border security generally orbit border control.
Operational control is the advertised endgame of federal immigration statutes and the topic of executive branch statements and directives. For example:
- The Secure Fence Act of 2006, PL109-367 states in part: "Not later than 18 months after its enactment, the DHS Secretary shall take all actions necessary and appropriate to achieve and maintain operational control over the entire international land and maritime borders of the United States." Operational control is defined in the statute as "[t]he prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States through more effective use of personnel and technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar coverage, and cameras."
- The January 25, 2018 Whitehouse Framework on Immigration Reform & Border Security states in part: "Securing the southern and northern border of the United States takes a combination of physical infrastructure, technology, personnel, and resources. The Department of Homeland Security must have the tools to deter illegal immigration; the ability to remove individuals who illegally enter the United States.
The Secure Fence Act and other federal immigration laws are not mere suggestions by the Congress of the United States. They represent clear-cut marching orders to the commander in chief. Related presidential memoranda issued to subordinates are meant to motivate action.
The border can be shut down in six months using existing technology and personnel. It's no secret how: just deploy the necessary force with vigor. The problem of a porous border is not solved by endless discussion or becoming embroiled in interior enforcement issues like workplace raids, visa overstays, or so-called deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA). Arguments such as "we need to address the reasons so many are traveling north," "the U.S. job market is the magnet," and "this is not who we are; we were all immigrants once" is counterproductive and irrelevant to enforcing existing border security law.
Rigorous border enforcement entails averting the gaze from distracting minutia to embracing physics and logistics, the opposite of sociological hyperbole. Assets, methodologies, and systems don't deploy themselves; a sea-to-sea plan must be developed and steadfastly executed. Partial measures and tinkering will not secure the border.
Operation Skywall (OPSW) is meant to rattle the status quo by challenging government inertia and dispelling the myth that a secure border can't be done. OPSW articulates the way ahead. First, commit to an overarching tactical structure capable of accomplishing the objective. Second, deploy and sustain it.
OPSW utilizes commercial-off-the-shelf (COT) capabilities and uses personnel drawn from tried and true geospatial disciplines. The task force delivers a double punch: it becomes a tool of law enforcement to efficiently achieve a closed border and does it cost-effectively.
The overview: Deploy a non-lethal intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) task force along the entire southern land and maritime border of the United States. Focus on complete border situational awareness by using geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) systems to expeditiously identify cross-border threats. Report and archive operational data to DHS.
The execution of OPSW is in four parts: 1. Establish Geographic Scope, 2. Determine Technical Means, 3. Define Personnel Requirements, and 4. Deploy and Sustain Force.
Establish geographic scope based on threat extent
Approx. 2000 miles of land and maritime borders (to include 18 miles into Pacific and 12 miles into Gulf of Mexico); length segregated into Grid Control Sectors, 3 miles wide x 6 miles long; 6000 total square miles of persistent surveillance; 334 Grid Control Sectors total.
Determine technical means to cover geography
Reconnaissance System: 8 fixed wing or rotary, un-manned/un-armed aerial vehicles w/ gimbled cameras; 4 Ground Control Units (GCU); each Grid Control Sector will employ 3 bands of aerial recon: #1 and #2 bands run primary detection (continuous) counter-fly routes, they will notify #3 back-up band once target is locked, and will then continue primary detection mission; #3 band once notified, will engage target and stay on point until interdiction authorities arrive and apprehend target. Additional system capabilities will be added to surveillance regime as required, e.g., motion, bathymetric, and artificial intelligence threat identification.
Define personnel requirements
Personnel strength calculated on approx. 10 troops (or technicians) operating three shifts at each Grid Control Sector; 334 Grid Control Sectors x 30 troops = 10,020 troops (or technicians).
Deploy and sustain the force
Suggested course of action: utilize U.S. military forces; a military approach better ensures mission cohesiveness and discipline. Alternative course of action: civilian contract. Initiate a full operational capability (FOC) regime to ensure operational outcomes and to certify regular compliance to actionable benchmarks. Task force will require battalion-level support.