Home
Benefits
News
entertainment
shop
finance
careers
education
join military
community
  
 

William S. Lind: Destroying the National Guard
William S. Lind: Destroying the National Guard

 


About the Author

William Sturgiss Lind, Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation, is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, born July 9, 1947. He graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College in 1969 and received a Master's Degree in History from Princeton University in 1971. He worked as a legislative aide for armed services for Senator Robert Taft, Jr., of Ohio from 1973 through 1976 and held a similar position with Senator Gary Hart of Colorado from 1977 through 1986. He joined Free Congress Foundation in 1987.

Mr. Lind is author of the Maneuver Warfare Handbook (Westview Press, 1985); co-author, with Gary Hart, of America Can Win: The Case for Military Reform (Adler & Adler, 1986); and co-author, with William H. Marshner, of Cultural Conservatism: Toward a New National Agenda (Free Congress Foundation, 1987). He has written extensively for both popular media, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Harper's, and professional military journals, including The Marine Corps Gazette, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings and Military Review.

Mr. Lind co-authored the prescient article, "The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation," which was published in The Marine Corps Gazette in October, 1989 and which first propounded the concept of "Fourth Generation War." Mr. Lind and his co-authors predicted that states would increasingly face threats not from other states, but from non-state forces whose primary allegiance was to their religion, ethnic group or ideology. Following the events of September 11, 2001, the article has been credited for its foresight by The New York Times Magazine and The Atlantic Monthly.

Mr. Lind is co-author with Paul M. Weyrich of the monograph: "Why Islam is a Threat to America and The West." He is the author of "George W. Bush's `War on Terrorism': Faulty Strategy and Bad Tactics?" Both were published in 2002 by the Free Congress Foundation.

William Lind Article Archive

Discussion Board
Have an opinion on this article? Sound off.

Get Breaking Military News Alerts

Related Links

Military Opinions Index

Guard Won't Meet Recruiting Goal


Get $985 a Month!

Your service may have earned you great education benefits. Get up to $985 per month to pay for your undergraduate, graduate or technical degree.

Find out about military-friendly schools today
.

September 24, 2004

[Have an opinion on a William Lind column? Sound off in the Discussion Boards.]

The unit knew it would soon be shipped to the front. Some soldiers responded by deserting. Others got drunk and fought. In response, officers locked the unit in its barracks, allowing the troops out only to drill, not even to smoke a cigarette, until it could be put on the transport that would take it into combat.

It sounds as if I am describing some third echelon Soviet infantry regiment in, say, 1942. In fact, I am talking about the 1st Battalion of the 178th Field Artillery Regiment, South Carolina National Guard, in September 2004. According to a front-page story in the September 19 Washington Post, the unit was disintegrating even before it was deployed to Iraq. One shudders to think what will happen once it gets there and finds itself under daily attack from skilled enemies it cannot identify.

One of the likely effects of the disastrous war in Iraq will be the destruction of an old American institution, the National Guard. Desperate for troops as the situation in Iraq deteriorates, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is using the National Guard in a mission for which it was never intended: carrying on a "war of choice" halfway around the world. Most Guardsmen enlisted expecting to help their neighbors in natural disasters, or perhaps maintain order locally in the event of rioting. They never signed up for Vietnam II.

Yes, the Guard was mobilized and deployed overseas in both World Wars, but those were true national wars, in which the American people were all involved one way or another. Cabinet wars, as they used to be called, are something altogether different. As Frederick the Great said, cabinet wars must be waged in such a manner that the people do not know they are going on.

But National Guardsmen are the people. To send them into a cabinet war is to misuse them in a way that will destroy them. Even in the American Revolution, militiamen were seldom asked to fight outside their own state. When they were, they usually responded by deserting.

The fault does not lie with the soldiers of the National Guard. Even within their units, they are being horribly misused. One of the Guard's strengths is unit cohesion: members of a unit come from the same place and usually know each other well, both in the unit, where they serve long-term, and often in the local community as well. In the case of the 1st Battalion, 178th Field Artillery, the Post reports that "to fully man the unit, scores of soldiers were pulled in from different Guard outfits, some voluntarily, some on orders." Cohesion went out the window. One soldier in the unit said, "Our moral isn't high enough for us to be away for 18 months…I think a lot of guys will break down in Iraq." That is always what happens when unit cohesion is destroyed, in every army in history.

For many Guardsmen, deployment to Iraq means economic ruin. They have mortgage payments, car payments, credit card debt, all calculated on their civilian salaries. Suddenly, for a year or more, their pay drops to that of a private. The families they leave behind face the loss of everything they have. What militia wouldn't desert in that situation?

The real scope of the damage of Mr. Rumsfeld's decision to send the Guard to Iraq - 40% of the American troops in Iraq are now reservists or Guardsmen - will probably not be revealed until units return. One of the few already back saw 70% of its members leave the Guard immediately.

What the Washington elite that wages cabinet wars does not understand, or care about, is the vital role the National Guard plays on the state and local levels. Once the Guard has been destroyed, who will provide the emergency services communities need when disaster strikes? One would think that in a so-called "war against terror," where the danger to the American homeland is readily acknowledged, someone in the nation's capital would care about the local first line of defense.

The fact of the matter is that Versailles on the Potomac does not care about the rest of the country in any respect, so long as the tax dollars keep coming in. My old friend King Louis XVI might be able to tell Rumsfeld & Co. where that road eventually ends up.

  Email this page to friends

© 2004 William S. Lind. William S. Lind is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Military.com.


 
 



 



Member Center


FREE Newsletter


Military Report


Equipment Guides


Installation Guides


Military History