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Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support

Placing the military at the center and eliminating the body politic

August 7, 2005 -

On June 30 the Department of Defense (DoD) issued the latest in its "Defense Strategy" guidelines, this one addressed primarily to the role of the military inside the country. Titled Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support (SHDCS), the document represents, as the forward by Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England put it, "the next significant milestone in reshaping the Department's approach to homeland defense. Building upon the concept of an active, layered defense outlined in the National Defense Strategy, the Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support constitutes the Department's vision for transforming homeland defense and civil support capabilities. It will fundamentally change the Department's approach to homeland defense in an historic and important way." (Forward to SHDCS) England describes establishment of the military's Northern Command (NORTHCOM) in 2002, as the "first important step." NORTHCOM was established specifically for commanding troops inside the country and to further US attempts to subordinate Canada and Mexico's military forces to US command and establish a single "North American Security Perimeter."

The SHDCS is the "next milestone." It serves to both justify and finalize elimination of arrangements where the military is subordinate to civil authority, including Congress and the Courts, and where the military is largely blocked from law enforcement inside the country. The Strategy elaborates the practical measures needed to insure civilians, private enterprise, transportation and communication, medical personnel and facilities, exist to support the military in its "war-fighting" capacity.

The SHDCS tries to justify military intervention inside the country by saying there is a difference between "homeland security" and "homeland defense." It further elaborates the main content of all the Pentagon strategies of "pre-emptive" war throughout the "global commons," including space and all air and seaways. It gives particular focus to control of "maritime approaches," including the seacoasts of Canada and Mexico. It also provides greater specifics on how the military will intervene inside the US and subordinate civilians, including medical personnel and other first responders to the needs of the military. To force all to submit, it emphasizes the need to provide "shared situational awareness" of "threats." With the lies and manipulation used to justify the Iraq war, the world is already witness to just how the US will create and impose this "shared awareness."

Notions of Security and Defense

As with all the Pentagon's strategy documents, September 11 is used as the battle cry for the changes being made. The SHDCS Executive Summary states, "On September 11, 2001, the world changed fundamentally The United States has become a nation at war, a war whose length and scope may be unprecedented." (p.1) As well, the US itself is "an integral part of the global theater of combat," making everyone subject to the same brutality and potential "enemy combatant" status, with its torture and detentions, already unleashed in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay.

The document attempts to justify why the Pentagon is needed for homeland defense when an entire Department of Homeland Security (DHS) exists, plus well-armed state, county and local police forces, plus state-based national guards. According to the Pentagon's Northern Command, "Homeland security is the prevention, preemption, and deterrence of, and defense against, aggression targeted at US territory, sovereignty, domestic population, and infrastructure as well as the management of the consequences of such aggression and other domestic emergencies." The Department of Homeland Security is said to be the lead federal agency for this "security," with the Pentagon and NORTHCOM playing a "support" role. The report specifically brings out that use of the military for law enforcement inside the country is currently blocked by the Posse Comitatus Act and the long-standing tradition of a clear division between the military and civilian life in governance and law enforcement.

"Homeland defense," according to the report, "is the protection of US territory, domestic population and critical infrastructure against military attacks emanating from outside the United States." Presumably, the distinction is now clear.

The Pentagon's SHDCS says it is not the responsibility of the military to "stop terrorism from coming across our borders, to stop terrorism from coming through US ports, or to stop terrorists from hijacking aircraft inside or outside the United States." But it is the responsibility of DoD to "secure the US from direct attack" from terrorists inside and outside the country, to "identify, track and intercept threats long before they threaten the nation," and to "execute military missions that dissuade, deter, and defeat attacks upon the United States, our population and our defense critical infrastructure." (p.2)

The SHDCS effectively places the military in command of what it terms an "active layered defense." It says "This active, layered defense is global, seamlessly integrating US capabilities in the forward regions of the world [like Asia], the global commons of space and cyberspace, in the geographic approaches to US territory and within the United States." To be effective it requires "the capability to mass and focus sufficient warfighting assets to defeat any attack." (p.2)

The attacks anticipated, both inside and outside the country, are not only those from "terrorist groups" but those from "rogue nations" and "the potential emergence of regional peer competitors," (p.7) as well as what are termed "civil disturbances." (p.12)

One of the main practical measures being taken to integrate the various police forces with the military and eliminate the distinction between military and civilian law enforcement and governance is the Pentagon's plan to "achieve maximum awareness of potential threats. Together with the Intelligence Community and civil authorities, DoD works to obtain and promptly exploit all actionable information needed to protect the United States."

Together with "maximum awareness" is the notion of "shared situational awareness." This is defined as a "common perception of the environment and its implications. This expanded national security challenge necessitates an unprecedented degree of shared situational awareness among Federal agencies, with state, local, tribal, and private entities, and between the United States and its key foreign partners."

The SHDCS emphasizes that the DoD must work "with domestic and international partners to develop a persistent, wide-area surveillance and reconnaissance capability for the airspace within US borders, as well as over the nation's approaches." The DoD proposes the use of unmanned aircraft as one means to regularly collect "information," initiating what will be an unprecedented spying apparatus with all information posted to the DoD's Global Information Grid, "integrating operational domains [e.g., land, air and sea] and facilitating information sharing across traditional military-civilian boundaries." In this manner, the Pentagon's identification of "threats" using "actionable intelligence," will be imposed to force all the police and civilian agencies to submit to military dictate.

It should also be noted here that unlike the earlier Pentagon documents, the Homeland Strategy includes the native peoples, who are supposed to have sovereignty within their reserves. The SHDCS plans to integrate tribal police forces and governance into the same "seamless force," in an effort to eliminate independent action and resistance. This is particularly true for border areas, where tribes, for example, have enabled protesters to cross the border when the government was attempting to block them, as occurred with demonstrators traveling to Quebec City, Canada, to protest against the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Failing such "integration," the government will no doubt brand Indian territory as "ungovernable" and thus subject to military missions.

People here and worldwide also have experience with the government's "actionable intelligence," used to justify police killings, as was just seen in London, and military bombings of cars, homes, and communities, in the name of killing "suspected terrorists." Indeed, the SHDCS specifically calls for creating "an unpredictable web of land, maritime and air assets that are arrayed to detect, deter and defeat hostile action." (p.11) Characterizing the current situation as one of uncertainty, there is no doubt this "unpredictable web" using "actionable intelligence" will mean an increase in the reckless and adventurist aggression and repression by the US, inside and outside the country.

Eliminating National Boundaries

Again using September 11, with its "new kind of enemy," the Homeland Strategy argues throughout that the US is a "preeminent part of the global theater of combat." The significance of this can be seen in the use of this argument in a case now before the US Court of Appeals. The government is trying to justify the "enemy combatant" status and indefinite military detention of Abdullah al-Muhajir (Jose Padilla). Al Muhajir is a citizen, detained in Chicago on a material witness warrant, never charged, and currently held as an enemy combatant despite a court ruling that he was being held unconstitutionally.

The government, in appealing the ruling, argues that the US is a battleground and that the President, as Commander in Chief, on his say so alone, can brand anyone an enemy combatant and indefinitely detain them. According to the government, such action is essential to "defend" the country from "threats." With the US part of the "theater of combat," both in court and in the SHDCS, the government says the same "principles that are driving the transformation of US power projection and joint expeditionary warfare" abroad should be applied "to the domestic context." Thus an argument is being made to eliminate the Constitution, its separation of powers and standards of due process, just as the Office of the President is eliminating the Geneva Conventions and standards of international law and relations.

Connected with this concept of "no borders" is the SHDCS focus on the "US homeland and its approaches." Both air and sea approaches, including those from Canada and Mexico, are considered part of "US approaches." While acknowledging that land approaches are "within the sovereign territory of Canada and Mexico," the Homeland Strategy emphasizes "The waters and airspace geographically contiguous to the United States are critical homeland defense battlespaces. In these approaches, US Northern Command, the North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD), and US Pacific Command, working in concert with other combatant commands, the Intelligence Community, the US Coast Guard and other domestic and international partners, have the opportunity to detect, deter and if necessary defeat threats en route -- before they reach the United States. This requires maximum awareness of threats in the approaches as well as the air and maritime interception capabilities necessary to maintain US freedom of action." (p.12)

As part of the Pentagon's call to integrate the US Coast Guard and US Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations stated that, "forward deployed naval forces will network with other assets of the Navy and the Coast Guard, as well as the intelligence agencies to identify, track and intercept threats long before they threaten this nation." This, the report continues, will require maritime arrangements similar to already-existing homeland defense and civil support missions such as NORAD which is notorious for violating the sovereignty of Canada, including having the Pentagon place Canadian military forces into action. Naval forces will also be "responsive to US Northern Command," meaning they will also be used against Americans.

Extending the Military Role Inside the US

The SHDCS makes clear that "When directed by the President, the Department will execute land-based military operations to detect, deter and defeat foreign terrorist attacks within the United States. To achieve these mission requirements, we must work closely with our neighbors, establish seamless relationships and organizational structures with interagency partners and be prepared to respond with military forces on our own soil quickly, responsively, and in a manner that is well coordinated with civilian law enforcement agencies." (p.26) It stresses that "When conducting land defense missions on US territory, DoD does so as a core, warfighting mission, fulfilling the Commander in Chief's Constitutional obligation to defend the nation." (p.27)

To justify such military missions, the need to "defend critical infrastructure," and "crisis management and continuity of operations" are emphasized. Defending "critical infrastructure" not only means protecting DoD installations. Sometimes, the DoD says, "critical defense assets are located in public or private sites beyond direct control of DoD." "In some scenarios," the SHDCS says, "assurance of non-DoD infrastructure might involve protection activities, in close coordination with other Federal, state, local, tribal or private sector partners. This could include elements of the Defense Industrial Base which is a worldwide industrial complex," necessary to "sustain military operations. Moreover defense critical infrastructure could also include selected civil and commercial infrastructures that provide power, communications, transportation, and other utilities," needed by the military. (p.18)

According to the Pentagon, defending the military also requires that "defense contractors must be able to maintain adequate response times, ensure supply and labor availability, and provide direct logistic support in times of crisis." (p.29) Thus the strategy is to put people, resources and productive capabilities of all kinds at the disposal of the military in its "warfighting" capacity -- in a war whose "length and scope may be unprecedented." And with the chauvinism of US imperialism, this can be done anywhere in the "worldwide industrial base" the Pentagon proclaims belongs to it.

As an additional means to justifying the military's command and control of all these "assets," the Strategy says that a mass-casualty attack on the US will occur within the next ten years. The document argues that the DoD is "uniquely equipped" to assist civilian authorities which will likely be overwhelmed by a chemical, biological, or nuclear attack. It says the DoD must "provide the President and Secretary of Defense with survivable and enduring national command and control of DoD assets and US military forces. DoD also plays an important role in ensuring Continuity of Government and Enduring Constitutional Governance." To implement this, the Strategy calls for "dual-capable forces for domestic consequence management missions," particularly targeting the National Guard and Army Reserve for special training for missions inside the US

The report also makes clear that the Pentagon is preparing for mass resistance to the US path of war and repression. The SHDCS calls for the development and further use of "non-lethal capabilities": "As the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, made clear, we may be required to defeat attacks in major civilian population centers. Non-lethal capabilities hold some promise as an effective alternative to deadly force. The Department will therefore examine the potential operational employment of non-lethal weapons for homeland defense missions, particularly those where civilian loss of life can be effectively minimized." (p.37) Examples include: "Counter-personnel technology, used to deny entry into a particular area, temporarily incapacitate individuals or groups, and clear facilities, structures, and areas. Counter-material technology, to disable, neutralizes, or deny an area to vehicles, vessels, and aircraft, or disable particular items of equipment. Counter-capability technology, to disable or neutralize facilities, systems, and CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-explosive weapons)." (p.37)

The Homeland Strategy, also in the name of protecting against CBRNE, calls for subordinating medical personal to the needs of the military forces. Protection of civilians and their infrastructure is not addressed.

The document explains that the DoD is "improving medical surveillance capabilities both on installations and within surrounding communities." It reports the forced anthrax and small pox vaccinations of more than 700,000 military personnel and plans for more vaccines. Various proposals have already been made for a mass vaccination of the public for small pox as well, even though the US is the only one with supplies of the small pox virus and a history of using them, as was done against native peoples.

In addition, the Pentagon is organizing to put the entire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) at its disposal. Efforts are going forward to create a single "research consortium" that includes the Department of Homeland Security, DHHS, and the Army. It is to be located at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. The SHDCS says the consortium will provide DoD with the research, testing and "large surge lab capacity for bioterrorism incident response." (p.28)

In speaking to the domestic situation overall, the Homeland Strategy says "To achieve critical infrastructure protection in the most serious situations, the Department of Defense maintains trained and ready combat forces for homeland defense missions." (p.30) This, like the document as a whole, makes clear that the SHDCS is designed to effectively eliminate the body politic as a public, coherent body with the military subordinate to civilian authority and rule of law. It is an effort to subordinate all "assets" of the country and those of the entire "global commons," including people, resources and productive facilities and infrastructure to the brutal and genocidal dictate of US imperialism and its military.

* Voice of Revolution is a publication of the US Marxist-Leninist Organzation at

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