Healy claims in his paper, Deployed in the U.S.A. The Home Font’s Creeping Militarization, that considering the overwhelming progress portrayed by the U.S. military in fighting foreign conflicts, it should not be assigned to the home front to combat terrorism in place of the police. Healy argues that the military was prepared to battle the enemy by shooting, based on his point on preparation procedures, whilst the police are supposed to uphold human rights (Heal, 2003). As a consequence, military deployment can be dangerous to civil rights. Using a historical and legal perspective to review the American civil-military separation, the author claims that citizens have a right to resist military deployment on the home front. He concludes by urging the state to stop blaming Posse Comitatus Act as the hindrance towards their effort to fight terrorism and instead strengthen it (Heal, 2003).
In my view, going by the historical incidents the fear on military deployment among the American civilians is well grounded. For instance, during the Revolutionary period in 1770, a confrontation arose between the British soldiers and the civilian mob who were demonstrating against the local colonial government (Heal, 2003). The troops ended up opening fire and in the process killed five people leading to enactment of the Intolerable Act. Also, during the World War I, the American military intelligence agents quashed and harassed union leaders by jailing them for weeks without charges (Heal, 2003). The worst scenario was witnessed in 1993 during a stand-off between the Branch Davidian Community and the military, leading to the death of over 80 civilians (Heal, 2003). Such demonstrations are a clear indication that the military has a historical trend to abuse power whenever they get a chance thereby posing a threat to the civilians.
However, I do believe deploying the military on the borders as a last resort when urgent matters arise is illegal. Although they have been trained to use excessive force while fighting the enemy, we should not forget the troops are also humans who can easily follow instructions. For instance, in 2002 the Congress found it necessary to militarize the borders with unarmed national guardsmen (Heal, 2003). Their roles were limited to surveillance and in the process of fighting against drug trafficking no ugly incident was recorded. Having guarded other countries’ borders such as the Korean successfully, it is unfair to refer to the US soldiers as dangerous beings who cannot be trusted to protect American borders (Heal, 2003). With the increasing threat of terrorism in the 21st Century, it is my view that the military can play a critical role in protecting the American borders but under supervision by the Defense Department to ensure they do not cross the responsibility mark.
Also, as the policymakers adopt proposals which will restructure the functionality of the military, I believe they should emphasize on changing the culture. Other than generalizing the whole military unit as dangerous, those who break the law in the course of their duties should be held accountable. One of the instances that the author has used to discredit military deployment on home affairs is the 1997 scenario whereby an American student was killed by Marine Corps who were conducting anti-drug patrol (Heal, 2003). It is the specific soldiers who should bear the responsibility and not the military body as a whole. The reason why I believe it is the culture embrace in the system that creates the problem is due to the actions taken when such matters arise. For instance, after the student incidence, the soldiers were transferred from Texas borders to California without substantive investigations (Heal, 2003). If such a culture misconduct and lack of accountability are rectified, I believe civilians will gain trust in the military.
In conclusion, it is clear that the military has a long history of abusing their powers when it comes to confrontations with civilians. The primary argument behind such a trend is that the kind of training they receive directs them to fight an enemy through killing. As a result, their deployment on home affairs even under sensitive issues such as terrorism is considered a threat to civil liberty. However, I believe if appropriate measures are taken, the military can stop being a threat to locals.
Heal, G. (2003). Deployed in the U.S.A. The Creeping Militarization of the Home Font. Policy Analysis, 503, 1-22.