Commentary

October 18, 2013

Identifying domestic enemies

Col. Joseph L. Prue
821st Air Base Group commander

THULE AIR BASE, Greenland — As members of the military, we have all taken an oath of service. For officers it is the Oath of Office and for enlisted service members it is the Oath of Enlistment.

Although the titles are different, there is an identical statement in both that sparked my curiosity one day: “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

Americans are continually reminded of our foreign enemies through newspapers, Internet news sites and local or national news television broadcasts. Identifying our domestic enemies is not so well known or broadcasted. To satisfy my curiosity I turned to our Constitution to see if it defined what a domestic enemy is to the United States of America.

Amendment 14, Section 3 states, “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” As a military officer, I honed in on the words military and insurrection. To me, this meant that any insurgent against the United States shall not hold any public office to include civil or military.

Naturally, I consulted Webster’s dictionary to gain ground truth on the definition of an insurgent. Insurgent is defined as “a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government.” From my many professional military education courses I began to fill in the blanks on what defines a domestic enemy, and naturally began to formulate a plan on how to defend the Constitution against them.

Insurgents are difficult to identify as they typically blend into the population and naturally thrive in a failed state environment. One way to negate insurgent operations is to integrate civil or military authorities into the population and provide protection and assistance in rebuilding a community and minimize the insurgent’s opportunity to take action. This is easier said than done.

By now I had defined a domestic enemy as an insurgent and an insurgent as one who revolts against authority. So the natural question is how could I apply this to my command tour? Surely we in the Air Force do not have domestic enemies amongst us — or so I thought.

I submit that perpetrators of sexual assault and harassment are one example of domestic enemies. They revolt against civil authority by committing criminal acts against other members of our service. They blend in to our population of Airmen as they meet physical standards and wear the same uniforms. When found guilty of “insurgent” actions they are removed from military service as directed in Amendment 14 of our Constitution. But how do we defend against them in a proactive instead of a reactive manner? More specifically, how would I execute defensive actions during my command tour?

First, integrate military authority into the base population. This is simply executed by walking around work places, dorms and chow halls to provide our Airmen with a level of visible protection and assistance on a physical level. Next, spending time talking with our Airmen will begin to build a level of trust that should foster open communication and reporting of possible “insurgent” activity.

Finally, get group buy-in to work as a team to identify insurgents and insurgent activity and minimize, if not eliminate, insurgents’ opportunity to operate by rebuilding the community in an effort to not become a failed state where insurgents thrive.

Domestic enemies cannot be defended against by just the commander. We all must take to heart our oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and be proactive in doing so.




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