Fixing America – Idea 14 – The Use of Military Units in the Event of Natural Disasters

By February 10th, 2020

Blog No. 113
February 11, 2020 

Fixing America – Idea 14 

Reading Time: 7 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen, Recipient of Eight National Book Awards. For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/  and click “Blog.”

Introduction

This is the fifth article in my “Fixing America” series of Blogs. In this series, I present ideas which might help in addressing some of  America’s challenges and problems.
Some of the ideas are my own. Some of them I have come across in the course of my research over these last now 12 years for my last two series of books – The Relevance of Reason (Vols I and II) (2013-2014) and Dead Serious and Lighthearted (Vols I, II, and III) (2018-2019). A few of them are older, even well-known ideas which I believe deserve reconsideration. A few of them incorporate the welcomed and attributed ideas of friends and associates.
These ideas cover a wide range of subjects. The ideas are presented without lengthy comment or recommendation, but I believe that you, like me, may conclude – like the title of my initial October 14, 2019 blog in this series – that many of the ideas already percolating out there in our America “are good … and some are brilliant.”  Enjoy.

Idea No. 14

The Institutionalized Use of Military Units

in the Event of Natural Disasters   

Excerpts from Dead Serious and Light-Hearted by Mack W. Borgen

Background:  Wars have changed. Except in the movies like 1917, the trench battles of World War I are over.  There is not going to be another D-Day; another Battle of Midway; another Iwo Jima or Guadalcanal; and hopefully never again another Hiroshima or Nagasaki.  Instead, 21st Century warfare is different. Traditional warfare has been replaced by the more unending battles against terrorism and the chaos of “unconventional” warfare. But to the extent that the lasting results of “war” are roughly defined the massive loss of lives and property, and to the extent the over-riding purpose of the U.S. military is to defend our peoples and our land, then in the 21st Century, the military must become much more engaged in the third type of “war” which will define this century – the losses of lives and property due to natural disasters.

          Natural Disasters. This article is not about the contentious debate about the existence or causes of climate change. Instead, it is “merely” about the growing number of national disasters which have occurred in the U.S. the last several decades.

               Hurricanes, Cyclones, and Floods. There are too many hurricanes and cyclones to even remember. They hit the headlines and pass through the news. But the number of dead and the monetary losses are staggering – Hurricane Isabell (2003) (East Coast) (51 dead – $5.5BB); Ivan (2004) (Texas and Florida) (54 dead – $13.0BB); Frances (2004) (Florida) (49 dead – $9.0BB), Katrina (2005) (Gulf States) (1,500 dead – $125.0BB); Rita (2005) (Louisiana) (1320 dead – $18.5BB); Ike (2008) (Texas and Louisiana) (112 dead – $30.0BB); Irene (2011) (Puerto Rico) (49 dead – $15.8BB); (Super Storm) Sandy (2012) (East Coast) (158 dead – $71.4BB); Mathew (2016) (Southeast) (47 dead – $10.0BB) Harvey (2017) (Texas and Louisiana) (106 dead – $125.0BB); Irma (2017) (Puerto Rico) (99 dead – $53.4BB); Maria (2017) (Puerto Rico) (2,982 dead – $90.0BB); Rita (Louisiana); Harvey (Texas and Louisiana), Michael (2018) (Southeast US) (59 dead – $25.0BB) in losses); Florence (2018) (Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) (54 dead – $24.2BB in losses), … and on and on. They are literally running out of hurricane names.

                Tornadoes. And though they do not give names to tornadoes, there have been more of them as well — such as the 2008, 2011, and 2012 outbreaks (360 tornadoes in the Midwest and South with 448 dead – More than $14.5BB in losses) and the especially tragic 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri (158 dead –  and $2.8BB in losses).

               Wildfires. One does not like to compare tragedies, but in certain respect wildfires may be even worse than hurricanes, cyclones, floods, and tornadoes. We can chit-chat all we want about forest practices, clear-cutting, the maintenance of electrical lines, and state vs federal forests, but the proverbial bottom-line is the same. In each of the last two decades for which there is solid US Forest Service data (1999-2008 and 2009-2018), the data is the same – about 108,000 square miles have burned. This equates to land the size of Wyoming (or for you Easterners, land equal to about 90 Rhode Islands!). This damage is about a 2.5 times (250%!) more than that of any prior decade. And the wildfires are everywhere throughout the West and especially California. Like our hurricanes and cyclones, there are too many to name — from the 2003 Biscuit Fire in Oregon to the 2018 Camp Fire (85 dead in Paradise, California); from the Tubbs, Woolsey, Atlas, and Thomas fires in California to the Yarnell Fire in Arizona. And, on it goes — just like the seasonal onslaught of hurricanes in the Gulf and Southeastern States and the tornadoes in the Midwest and South. Thousands of Americans dead and billions of dollars lost.

       The Growing and Lethal Constant in American 21st Century Life. Deadly, costly, and tragic natural disasters are now a constant of American life. Aggregating just those U.S. natural disasters in which more than 15 Americans have died, in the last 20 years there have been 6,756 casualties and total losses well in excess of $650,000,000,000. That is more than the 6,208 U.S. military casualties in both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars combined. That is about the same as the entire 2019 Department of Defense budget of $686.6BB. Foreign powers and armies must still be contained. Terrorism must be contained. America’s shores must still be protected. But natural disasters should be recognized for what they are — the new 21st Century enemy; the new 21st Century “war.”

       Inadequate Local, State, and Regional Resources. However, there is one more consideration. There is one more stubborn reality. As our nation’s population, urbanization, and development continues to grow, the containment and emergency response capabilities remain evermore beyond the inadequate and under-funded capacities of local, state, and regional resources. As commendable as they may be, safety precautions, enhanced building codes, improved emergency planning, and better environmental and forest practices are not enough. Neither Americans nor their insurance companies can any longer just lean back and “brace themselves for another next (fire)(hurricane)(tornado) season.”

       But there may be a (partial) solution.                                                                                                         

Idea.  As a matter of training and as an articulated mission, the U.S. Armed Forces must be authorized to immediately react and assist in the preservation of U.S. lives and property upon the occurrence of a natural disaster. There are nearly 1,400,000 active duty personnel (of which more than 80% are on active duty within the U.S.). There are another 845,000 military reserve personnel. Although of very different sizes, there are already military bases and facilities in all 50 states. And even though “natural disasters” have not historically been deemed “the enemy” from which the military serves to protect our country, this must change. The word must be broadened. Importantly, the mission of using the military for fast and routinized assistance in responding quickly to domestic natural disasters is wholly consistent with the military’s purpose of protecting America and Americans.

Furthermore, the military is already uniquely trained for this mission. As a veteran myself, I know that the military prides itself upon the training, physical conditioning, discipline, readiness, and mobility of its troops. These skills are exactly those which are necessary for responding to natural disasters. Thus, the military should be brought in both soon and automatically.

Neither the military nor the imperiled citizens should have to wait until the fires are out of control. The military should not await the sometimes dangerously belated declaration-of-emergency announcements of our political leaders or the mobilizing of national guard units. State and local officials should not have to compete and beg for the woefully under-funded and oftentimes over-whelmed resources of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. (“FEMA”). FEMA was honorably founded in 1979, but back then they could not foresee the scope of their task. And even now, FEMA’s measly $29.0BB budget remains a mere 4.2% of the DOD budget. FEMA’s 11,300 employees represent less than 1% the number of active duty military. Very bluntly, it is 2020 now. We know that neither localized first responders nor FEMA are enough to combat the 21st Century’s natural disasters — possibly the greatest known, indeed assured, threat to American lives and property. Thus and instead, military units should be used to immediately and routinely defend our country and its citizens against natural disasters. The military should not replace America’s first responders, but they should be institutionally used as our nation’s “second responders.” 

Implementation. The implementation of this idea would require thoughtful coordination. A carefully delineated chain of command and an allocation of response priorities would have to be agreed upon. However, in certain respects this added mission of the military may be far simpler than one would. First, because the speedy and talented provision of disaster abatement and relief by the military would be welcomed since there are, for example, only about 374,000 full-time firefighters in the U.S. Worse yet, many of our country’s small towns and many parts of rural America are served only by volunteer firefighters, and in the event of a natural disaster, these men and women are too widely dispersed and too inadequately trained. In addition, they oftentimes do not have the necessary resources and equipment. Thus, whether it be fires or hurricanes or cyclones or tornadoes or floods, the defined role of the military should be expanded. Our new form of “warfare” needs to be recognized for what it is. Our need for immediate and powerful responses needs to be recognized. The military needs to expand its concept of “shock and awe.” The military needs to be welcomed as it more directly and automatically assists in assuring the speedy preservation of American lives, homes, and property.

Source: Author Mack W. Borgen

List of Previously Presented Ideas 

Idea 1 –  Consolidated Interstate Database for Reports of License Suspension or Revocation (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019). 

Idea 2 – Term Limits (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019).

Idea 3 – The Media – Report Corporate Settlements, Awards and Fines as Percentage of Annual Net Profits (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019). 

Idea 4 – Award of Attorneys’ Fess to Winning Party (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019).

Idea 5 – Inclusion of Positive Aspects of American Society as a Distinct Part of U.S. History School Curricula (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019). 

Idea 6 – Office of International Comparisons (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019). 

Idea 7 – The Need for Climate Scientists to Retain Professions for the Development of an Educational Campaign (Blog No. 109, Nov. 26, 2019). 

Idea 8 – Redefining the Concept of “News” The Need for the Regular Infusion of Positive News (Blog No. 109, Nov. 26, 2019). 

Idea 9 – The Necessity of Mandatory Public Service (Blog No. 109, Nov 26, 2019). 

Idea 10 – Cap or Tie Congressional Pay Increases (Blog No. 110, Dec 7, 2019). 

Idea 11 – Scrutinize (and Possibly Eliminate) the Congressional Health Care System (Blog No. 110, Dec 7, 2019). 

Idea 12.  Eliminate the Congressional Retirement System (Blog No. 110, Dec 7, 2019). 

Idea 13. Cease production and eliminate the use of the U.S. penny (Blog No. 110, Dec 7, 2019).

The Fancypants Word of the Day

Flaneur (Part of speech: Noun; Origin: French, 19th Century)  1) One who rambles or travels aimlessly, 2) An idler or dawdler.
Examples of use in sentences: “People tolerated him for being a flaneur, but it was an exhausting tolerance.” “They left their itineraries open so that they could be flaneurs and do things on the fly.”
Source and thank to wordgenius.com and Shawna Borgen.

The Gen Z* Slang Word or Phrase of the Day

Introduction: Communicating with younger generations is oftentimes difficult enough – especially since their conversations are dominated by memes, ever-changing social media platforms, and 280-character tweets. Nevertheless, our ability to “talk” with one another is important – and even if not important, it is at least useful. These short slang definitions might help.
Flex. To “flex” (as a verb) is to knowingly flaunt or show off. As a noun, a “flex” is the thing being shown off.
Example 1: “He drove himself to school in a new car the day he got his license, but everyone knew he was just trying to flex.”
Example 2: “Big flex, I just got as job promotion last night.”
Source: The New York Times.
* Definitions of Generations: Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Gen X (1965-1980), Millennials (1981-1996), and Gen Z (1997- ).

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This entry was posted on Monday, February 10th, 2020 at 9:53 am and is filed under Latest News, Natural Disasters. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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