The HBS XXXV is up and has a question about missions creep:
This week President Bush is kicking around the idea of increasing the role of the US armed forces in reacting to major natural disasters here at home. This seems to be pushing up against the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 pretty hard. This law prevents the US military from acting in a law enforcement role within our borders. Following the Civil War, it made sense to provide a sense of sovereignty to the states that had law behind it from enforcing an overbearing federal government from wrongly using federal troops in a domestic role.What are your thoughts about this mission creep for our military, especially in a time when we're at war with a major portion of our forces engaged?
Well my pastor has already made his feelings known and asked us to write the President and let him know how we felt. My feelings are that this is a bad, BAD BAD idea basically for two reasons.
First it tells us and the rest of the world that the government sector is incompetent. That is not true. Katrina showed us that civilian authorities can be flawed and caught unawares. At the risk of sounding like a partisan hack, in my opinion the failure of the civilian response to Katrina was the result of poor DEMOCRATIC leadrship. When given the go ahead, government and civilian agencies responded in spectacular fashion. The only plus the military has is organization. Everyone knows their place and their job and they just do it. The civilian world is a little more complicated, but every bit as capable. This is evident by the successful response to all hurricanes prior to Katrina.
Second it scares me whenever we allow the military to step in amd run things. I was not at all happy to see the national guard in the airports post 9/11. Any security I may have felt was overwhelmed by nervousness. The military's role is very specific. They are to defend this nation from it's enemies. It is a job they do VERY well and I am thankful for. But I don't think you can stretch the definition of natural disaster enough to make it an enemy of America. Any state can ask for assistance from the military when then want, but I think that should be a last resort, after all the local and state options have been exhausted. There is no need to expand the military's role to automatically include such domestic duties.