El Imperio Contraataque Part 4: An Ounce of Prevention…

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Mon, May 23 - 9:00 am EDT | 2 years ago by
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Lines of Departure - El Imperio Contraataque

El Imperio Contraataque (The Empire Strikes Back): Fighting the War to Retain the American Southwest

Part 4, An Ounce of Prevention…

We need to start getting ready for this now. Maybe we can head it off before it comes to pass. Maybe we can mitigate it if, or, more likely, when, it does. Maybe we can set it up so that we can win it with the least possible bloodshed and necessary tyranny. Maybe we’ll fail at all that but we still should at least try.

In the very first column that led this series of series, I talked about building the wall.1 We should start doing that now or as soon as Trump takes office, as I am beginning to expect he will. It should have sufficient observation towers for complete coverage, said towers to be small arms proof up to 14.5mm2, equipped with either light amplifying scopes or thermal imagers, and with machine gun pintles fixed. They shouldn’t have the machine guns, not quite yet, but we can certainly let the order for four of five thousand of them with FN Manufacturing, the local branch of Fabrique Nationale Herstal. The wall, as mentioned back in March, should be mostly a barrier and a wall only in places subject to sniping. The coast guard should probably be expanded to deal with attempts to circumvent the wall via the sea.

Four or five thousand towers implies forty or fifty thousand new members of the Border Patrol for the wall alone.

In addition, they need several battalions of police trained in riot control. I’d suggest one grouping of five hundred to one thousand men, each, based at San Diego, Yuma, Sierra Vista, El Paso, Shafter, Del Rio, Laredo, and McAllen. (I said “men” and I meant men; women have little real place in riot control. As far as I can tell, their sole useful roles are a) in detaining and carting off women involved in the riot and b) infiltrating the riot, which can be risky, indeed. For the rest it’s muscle work and steel hard discipline.) Forget using the Army’s Civil Disturbance manual for training them; the old one was horse manure and, while the newer one, 3-19-15, has kept up with technology to some extent, it’s still largely a product of intellectual exercise, not informed by much practical experience or testing, and completely misses the proper scale of the thing. Just ask, O Border Patrol, and I’ll find you a dozen veterans of the old 193rd Infantry Brigade (Canal Zone) who know how it’s to be done.3

I suspect that, yes, they’re going to have to rise to a strength of seventy to ninety thousand, including supervisory and limited support personnel, and that may be optimistic.


That’s only one kind of wall and one kind of border defense. There is another kind; one that, in principle, would not seem strange to a Roman legate looking out from Hadrian’s Wall, circa the second century, A.D.

See, the old Roman limes, in the days before barbed wire, firearms, night vision, and radio, could not really be controlled by the number of troops available to defend them. No doubt with some early warning the troops could be mustered to defend a section, but that implied largish attempts at crossing, where the more common approach was probably twenty to one hundred barbarians, Picts or Germans or Dacians, sneaking across to kill the men, rape the women and girls, rob what they could take, and burn the towns, before slipping back to safety with their loot and slaves. The frontier walls didn’t necessarily stop them from doing that, as mentioned, but they did make it harder to escape with loot and prisoners, hence increased the chances of being slaughtered while trying to escape, and so served to deter border crossers by removing the purpose.

Latins who cross don’t, so far, at least, seem especially interested in the traditional four priorities of work for raiders, “First rape, then kill, then pillage, and then burn.” They are, however, deeply interested in getting what they can get, their wages, back to their homes and families in Mexico, Guatemala, Guatepeor, or wherever. That’s where the other wall comes in, the digital, legal, and regulatory wall to prevent any sending of remittances back to their home countries. I’m insufficiently expert (read: Box-O-Rocks ignorant) of how best to do this; I can only insist that it should be done.


I mentioned in a comment on a previous column that we have a structural personnel problem in the reserve components, certainly in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard, in that they’re just replete with cops, cops that their communities can ill afford to let go when they’re mobilized. I’ve got a suggestion that will make that worse, not better, for those communities, in the short term, anyway, but which may still be necessary. This would be to create in the reserves several divisions or maybe ten to twelve separate brigades of gendarmerie.4 Those brigades should cover a wider than normal geographic recruiting area, even a national area, dispense with weekend drills, and assemble and train every year for forty-five days’ worth of training, preparatory to when we have to start calling them up for years at a time. They should get language proficiency pay if they speak Spanish to acceptable levels.

A dozen brigades would eat up perhaps half of the Army Reserve, or twenty percent or so of the complete reserve component. That’s significant enough a slice that we should probably forget about calling up either the Reserve or the Guard for optional wars against the Seventh Century for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, as gendarmerie, they’d probably be more useful for those wars if we did have to call them up, so – Congress, I’m talking to you – they might need some statutory protection against mobilization anywhere but along or near the border with Mexico.

Don’t miss Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 in this series.


1 https://everyjoe.com/2016/03/21/politics/border-security-another-brick-in-the-wall/, et seq.

2 An amazingly powerful Russian – ex-Soviet – round for which there are rifles as well as machine guns and for which the Chinese have developed even more effective discarding sabot rounds. We’d be wise to go with 40mm or more quality steel armor to the front and sides.

3 To the best of my knowledge and belief, there was only one unit in the Army capable of riot control. It was neither the 82d Airborne nor part the National Guard. It was not Military Police. None of those knew how to do it. None of them knew how to train for it. The 193rd knew both. By training for it I mean realistically, which means on the order of up to twenty percent hospitalizations or broken bones needing to be set and cast as a result of a single day’s exercise, along with perhaps half a dozen bayonetings, a dozen and a half needing dustoff for gas inhalation, of which several might stop breathing on the helicopters, that kind of thing.

4 Police with light infantry training or light infantry with police training take your pick. Yes, this is precisely what I told a frog field grade we couldn’t do and wouldn’t do…for his purposes, the EU’s purposes, or any purpose of ICOTESCAS, the International Community Of The Ever So Caring And Sensitive. Screw them, anyway; this is for US.

Photo by Getty Images

Tom Kratman is a retired infantry lieutenant colonel, recovering attorney, and science fiction and military fiction writer. His latest novel, The Rods and the Axe, is available from Amazon.com for $9.99 for the Kindle version, or $25 for the hardback. A political refugee and defector from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, he makes his home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He holds the non-exclusive military and foreign affairs portfolio for EveryJoe. Tom’s books can be ordered through baen.com.

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