The U.S. Army's top general wants to expand the scope of the military's role in civilian society, but expects pushback from non-governmental organizations and their leaders.
|Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Ordierno:|
Coming soon to your neighborhood?
(Photo courtesy Guardian UK)
That was the main takeaway from candid remarks made by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Ordierno during a lengthy panel discussion of military leadership by top-ranked commissioned and non-commissioned Army officers. The session took place Tuesday, Oct. 22 in Washington and was telecast live and archived on Army websites. The web link: army.mil/professional/ilw/future_leader.html.
"I believe we're never going to have in the future a solely military operation," Ordierno said.
"It's going to have to require other things, because of the complexity of the environment that we're going to operate in. So in order to do that, you have to build these relationships (with non-governmental organizations)....
"And many of them don't really want to associate with us, frankly. You've got to understand that going in.
"You have to define common objectives. And we have a lot of common objectives (with NGOs), whether it's delivery of quality of life to the population in some way, whether it's through conflict termination or conflict resolution in other ways besides combat operations....
"The challenge is going to be for us to set up the platforms that allow us to do this. But I want you to know that I'm committed to it. "
Ordierno added that "any of our leaders in the room" share that commitment, "as we get ourselves more settled here and we get ourselves moving forward."
The general did not elaborate on what he meant by his use of the words "more settled here" and "get ourselves moving forward." To this journalist, watching the session on live web video, it appeared several times that Ordierno was speaking in code, a short-hand fully understood only by those on the inside.
"This is not just a war-time function," Ordierno said. "This is a function that we will continue to do as we try to shape the environments. We want to continue this because we think it's really key as we go forward. So it's in the forefront of our minds. I think it's got to be part of everything that we do, even in our day-to-day activities, because there are many non-governmental and governmental departments that we're going to have to work with."
|Army Gen. Robert B. Brown:|
"Get your foot in the door."
Immediately after Ordierno's remarks, Army Gen. Robert B. Brown, using blunt language, echoed the top general's belief that segments of American society will resist Army efforts to take on tasks commonly regarded as the province of civilian organizations and authorities. Brown cited a notable exception: when the Army provides disaster aid and other humanitarian assistance to civilians, such as medical services.
"It's very difficult, quite honestly, at the operational level. I have folks who reach out constantly. Two areas (in which) we've been successful -- humanitarian assistance and disaster response -- tends to be much less threatening and it gets that relationship going. And we'll get them to come down to some high-end warfighting exercises once we build that trust."
Brown said that Army programs that provide civilians with medical assistance "gets your foot in the door. It is frustrating, though. It's not easy, and it takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of effort.
"Sometimes you get pushback also from your own organization," Brown added, and, speaking in the third person, said: "'Why the heck do we want to include Peace Winds of America?' or whatever the organization. You get real pushback sometimes, and pretty soon it becomes clear why you want to include them -- because they'll be wherever you're going. So you've got to start training, the way you fight."
Gen. Brown did not elaborate on that statement, which seemed to be another piece of military short-hand intended for knowing ears.
In his earlier remarks, Gen. Ordierno emphasized that all Army training exercises now include "a military-civilian piece of it. The issue is how we continue to support that."
In this reporter's view, the issue also is where to draw the line -- how far can the military insinuate itself into civil society without violating the American constitutional principle of civilian control?
To put it more bluntly:
Do Gen. Ordierno and other top military officers still adhere to the bedrock American principle of civilian control of the military -- or are they methodically carving out more and more exceptions, raising the specter of a "soft" military coup d'etat?
Given the extraordinary emergency powers now vested in the military by way of the USA Patriot Act and other legislation enacted in the wake of the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks, it's plausible to argue that a soft military coup is well underway -- and apparently is succeeding in the establishment of a permanent American military police state masquerading as a constitutional democratic republic.
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