article is provided courtesy of DefenseWatch,
the official magazine for Soldiers For The
Truth (SFTT), a grass-roots educational organization
started by a small group of concerned veterans
and citizens to inform the public, the Congress,
and the media on the decline in readiness
of our armed forces. Inspired by the outspoken
idealism of retired Colonel
David Hackworth, SFTT aims to give our
service people, veterans, and retirees a clear
voice with the media, Congress, the public
and their services.
Since the launch of the global war against terrorism following the
attacks, many federal agencies involved in defense and homeland security
have been pushed to their limits. The U.S. Army
has, in fact, been stretched beyond its capacity, with eight of its
10 divisions this year either preparing for combat operations, conducting
combat operations, or recovering from combat operations.
The U.S. Army cannot maintain the current tempo of operations in Iraq,
and other areas. It is easy to suggest that the U.S. Army should withdraw
from Iraq and Afghanistan in a year, but history does not support
that assertion. Our forces have been in Bosnia for a decade, and there's
still work to do there.
One solution that can be quickly implemented would be to create an
American Foreign Legion that could assume a number of duties currently
handled by the Army and Marine Corps. Here is my concept for such
The American Foreign Legion would consist of three 8,000-man
mechanized infantry divisions whose members would be non-U.S.
citizens serving under a cadre of regular Army officers.
Each enlistee would agree to serve in uniform for a minimum
of ten years, after which he and his immediate family would be
naturalized as American citizens. While serving, each AFL soldier
would receive a salary and benefits similar to those received
by the active-duty military.
Initial training would consist of an intense, six-week English-language
course for those unable to communicate effectively in English.
Following that, the recruit would attend a 12-week Army basic
training program. The training focus would be on basic mechanized
infantry tactics and security operations. Every graduate would
be qualified as a rifleman with specialized training conducted
within the AFL division as required.
The American Foreign Legion would have split responsibilities
similar to that of the U.S. Coast Guard for peacetime and wartime
During peacetime, the AFL would fall under the control of the Department
of Homeland Security with a primary mission of augmenting the U.S.
Border Patrol in border security operations. Daily operations would
include conducting extensive patrols of the border, freeing the U.S.
Border Patrol to concentrate its efforts on operating fixed border
When directed by the president, command of
the AFL would shift to the Department of Defense. While trained and
equipped to carry out high-intensity combat operations, the primary
role of the AFL under the DoD would be to serve as a designated peacekeeping
force. This would allow regular Army units to concentrate on high-intensity
conflict scenarios, and would dramatically increase the overall readiness
of the U.S. armed forces.
The Army can equip the AFL divisions with M113A3
armored personnel carriers currently in storage in the War
Reserve Stock, making the units rapidly deployable. In addition,
the tracked vehicles will protect the troops from the small-arms,
RPG and improvised explosive threats common to low-intensity conflicts.
Each AFL division would require roughly 500 M113A3 series vehicles,
in addition to a limited number of Humvees,
fuelers, LMTV's, and HMMT wreckers.
Aside from the core mechanized infantry units, each AFL division
should include an engineer construction battalion. While the AFL
should have no need for combat engineers, construction engineers
are in constant demand, particularly in training deployments to
Third World nations. The ability to build schools, roads and irrigation
systems would contribute significantly to the success of any peacekeeping
Construction engineers would also be very useful on the U.S.
borders with Mexico and Canada. For example, a battalion of engineers
could build a substantial secure border fence from the Gulf of
Mexico, to the Pacific Ocean in a year, and dramatically improve
the security of the border.
The logical bases for the AFL divisions would be at Fort Huachuca,
Ariz., and Fort Bliss, Tex. Infrastructure would be required for
the 8,000 troops and estimated 2,000 training cadre for each AFL
It would not be difficult for the Pentagon to establish three AFL
divisions very quickly. Each AFL division would be manned by roughly
The personnel who would serve in the AFL are already on hand: They
are part of the population of illegal immigrants already in the United
The Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) estimates
that 700,000 illegal immigrants enter the United States each year,
joining an estimated 8 million other illegals already here. Many of
them would be glad for a chance to enter and live in the country legally,
and serving in the American Foreign Legion with its programmed citizenship
reward could provide such an option.
Creating the American Foreign Legion would not come without significant
startup costs, but the U.S. Treasury would meanwhile realize additional
millions of dollars from tax payments by AFL members rising out of
the underground economy of the illegal alien population.
The units would significantly help the regular Army and its troops
carry out their primary missions as soldiers and not policemen. The
AFL would also provide the Department of Homeland Defense the teeth
it needs to be effective.
It is critical to our national security for the Pentagon to ease the
strains that the Army is suffering. It is also critical for our national
security to have positive control over our borders.
The American Foreign Legion could satisfy both needs.