Friday, January 18, 2013

Need for a New Military Branch

As military operations in Afghanistan wind down, the issue of what kind of presence we will leave behind has become a great source of debate. Even while our forces were at their strongest, questions existed about how best to establish and maintain our legitimacy among the Afghani people.

The need for a strong military posture is obvious, necessitated by the inadaquacy of the Afghani military and the continued threat posed by terrorist and other destabilizing forces. However, a failure on the part of the US to improve the quality of life, and the quality of politics within the country will affect our ability to influence events once the country is able to restore its sovereignty, meaning its ability to maintain a stable border and and relative stability and tranquility in the domestic sphere.

The US military is under great pressure and scrutiny, expected to fulfill a myriad of responsibilities that are not typically part of their job description. I believe that increasing the breadth of responsibilities for our military compromises its ability to do any particular thing well. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines should be responsible for fulfilling military objectives, nothing more. Turning our traditional fighting forces into peace keepers, mediators, infrastructure builders, and government advisers falls way beyond the scope of their mission.

What the US needs is to create a new branch of service, one that is solely responsible for rebuilding the nation during and after the cessation of conflict, for providing peacekeeping, and for advising government officials under scrutiny to create a political system that reflects our interest in republican government.

Think of them, if you will, as a hybrid that would include peacekeepers, engineers (yes I know the Army has a Corps of Engineers), lawyers, educators, urban planners, diplomats, and doctors. They would provide the expertise we now ask of our existing military branches, leaving our military to attend to its primary mission.

As we enter this final phase of our invasion of Afghanistan, we are justifiably concerned about stability in the region. Pakistan, Iran, China, and India are all motivated to extend its influence, in addition to the nongovernment groups, indiginous tribes, and terrorist groups inhabiting the region. Creating a viable Afghanistan is crucial if the State is to be at all able to project the legitimacy it needs to be acknowledged as sovereign. The presence of a US force empowered to improve the quality of life, government, and infrastructure in Afghanistan will go along way to supporting that effort while similarly dampening concerns that we are interested in turning Afghanistan into a vassal of the US. There are many ways to establish influence, and in this case guns and tanks may not be the best prescription.

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