Several veterans -including some belonging to left-wing organizations- and security officials have enlisted the help of CNN to criticize the deployment of US troops to the border in light of the caravan closing in on the United States, with some calling it a “stunt,” and suggesting that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resign.
On Thursday CNN featured the article under the title: “Veterans slam Trump for border ‘stunt'”
With Defense Secretary Mattis already stating that the Defense Department doesn’t “do stunts,” it raises the question- how to veterans from a wide range of backgrounds feel about military deployments to help stop the horde of migrants intent on crossing into the US?
“Donald Trump thinks unarmed people who are fleeing horrors and are still 1,000 miles away are a national security threat a week before election day,” said Marine veteran Will Fischer, who now works for progressive veterans organization VoteVets. “I don’t think so. It’s a political ploy to blow upon the embers of racism and nativism, and he is using the military again as a political prop to advance his own agenda.”
According to CNN, others, such as former National Security Council member Kelly Magsamen, called for Mattis to resign.
“This is a craven political stunt by President Trump ahead of the US midterms, and a cynical capitulation by a secretary of defense who has prided himself on improving the readiness, focus and lethality of the US armed forces,” Magsamen wrote in a statement to defense media.
“If Mattis does not believe the migrants are a threat that warrants tasking 5,000 active troops to the border, he should say so and resign.”
However, multiple veterans and actively-serving personnel reached out to Popular Military to tell another side of the story.
“I fully believe the fundamental duty of the federal government is to protect the citizens of the United States,” said Dale Loscher, a medically-retired member of the 101st Airborne Division who saw combat in Afghanistan. “I believe defending our sovereignty by controlling who comes into the country is well within the scope of presidential powers and utilizing the military to do so is completely constitutional.”
James Bridges, an Air Force Security Forces veteran from Tennessee who now serves as the mayor of Houston County, told Popular Military that a clear message needs to be sent on the topic of violating American sovereignty.
“I’m all for the military being sent to protect our southern border,” he said. “I know it’s not a full-blown armed military invasion, but we need to show that we are serious about our sovereignty and security.”
Others seemed supportive but saw military troop usage as the last resort.
“If this caravan was allowed to successfully enter the US, it sets a very dangerous precedent – ‘you can come in as long as you number in the tens of thousands and are violent,’” said Ivan Dima, a foreign-born US Army soldier serving with a Stryker unit. “The United States has embassies and consulates all throughout South America that have avenues of approach for asylum seekers.”
“If they plan to violate our border, the active duty military is the only player with the needed numbers, training, and restraint that can successfully stop this caravan without a repeat of the Kent state massacre,” he added, referencing the 1970 shooting of unarmed protestors by Ohio National Guard troops.
For some, however, the issue isn’t as black and white- leaving them conflicted with what the proper course of action is.
“My concern is the military being used without a clear overall mission and legal protection,” said Jonathan P, a US Army soldier who has been in service since 2008 and is stationed near the border. “UCMJ still applies, but this seems like a National Guard situation. I don’t want to speculate on the ROE or use of force, but it just seems like tinder box…sending armed active duty to the border.”
“However I am reminded that the 101st was asked to escort children to school in Arkansas during the civil rights era,” he added, I hope this ends peacefully and quickly.”
One special operations soldier (who agreed to speak under the alias of “Johnny ”), was born in South America but became a US citizen during his second enlistment, said the military needs to do whatever it takes to keep the migrants back.
“I came here legally,” Johnny said, on condition of anonymity. “When I first joined, I was in favor of ‘open borders’ and progressive policy, because I thought that helped me. But then I did my time, I learned about this great country and I learned to ‘know better.’ These days, I got no sympathy for people whose first action in our country will be breaking the respect for the law. Other countries have shown that there are some bad dudes rolling with this caravan. We can’t let it through. This is how republics have collapsed in ancient times.”
“This is an invasion by any other name,” Johnny said. “I got no sympathy for invaders. Our Republic mustn’t fall.”
Components of several active duty units -including the 101st Airborne Division- have been deployed in support of Operation Faithful Patriot, the name given to the Department of Defense support to U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the southwest border.
Of the 5,000 additional troops heading to the border, some will reportedly be bearing arms.
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