Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Guard on the border

I've been reading the blogs lately about putting Guradsmen on the border and I started doing a little research. Wikipedia tells us the US-Mexican border is 1951 miles long. We'll use that as a planning figure. If you want Guardsmen to watch the border, you have to assume that they will use standard infantry companies, or a reasonable facsimile to do that, so some basic math ought to give us the manpower requirements.

Current doctrine says that a rifle platoon can observe and control 750 meters of the FEBA under ideal conditions. That infantry commander will probably adopt a two-up, one back configuration so that the soldiers on the line can rotate out, rest and re-equip regularly. With two platoons forward, assuming ideal conditions, we can assume that a rifle company can control 1500 meters of FEBA.

A mile is 1609 meters. The whole border is something over 3.1 million meters. Divide 3.1 million times the 1500 meters that an infantry company can handle, and we learn that it will take 2067 Infantry companies to secure the southern border, from end to end. Depending on the TOE, there is something like 48 rifle companies in a division. (4 brigades, three battalions each, four companies each.) It'll take 43 divisions, linked shoulder to shoulder to secure the southern border. We don't have 43 divisons.

I retired from the LA National Guard in 1999. This plan is a smokescreen for something else. We don't have the manpower to immediately secure the border.


j said...

Here's my plan to secure the border:

We build a prison inside Mexico capable of holding 2,000 prisoners. We build it to Mexican standards. We catch the illegals, and we take them to the Mexican prison. We pay Mexico $10 per day per prisoner. We monitor the number of prisoners of course.

First time we catch one and take him back, he gets 30 days. Catch him again, he gets 60 days. Etc., etc.

The Mexican government would get lots of dollars they could graft at will. All we care about is if we pay for 1,001 prisoners, by golly there better be 1,001 prisoners in the prison. We don't care what they eat and what they have to sleep on and whether their ball court is paved or not.

We wouldn't catch many the second time. Nobody would want to spend 60 days in a Mexican jail.

Standard Mischief said...

Your basic math seems good, Pawpaw. For those of your readers who are not ex-military you need to define "standard infantry company" and "rifle platoon". How many men are you talking about?

FEBA = "forward edge of the battle area"?

Also, the President said "Guard units will not be involved in direct law enforcement activities – that duty will be done by the Border Patrol."

He also said "up to 6,000 Guard members", which seems a little skimpy for 1951 miles.

Still we're not trying to hold a battle line in a state of conventional warfare.

Pawpaw said...

Defining a "standard infantry company" is an exercise in futility, because there ain't no damn thing in today's army. You can have mechanized infantry, light infantry, parachute infantry, or scouts. Each of them are arranged according to the TOE, which varies from type to type. The "standard infantry company" is a planning device used to get quick and dirty numbers. Basically, all infantry formations are arranged around a fire team. Basically four men in a team, two teams in a squad, with a squad leader. Four squads in a platoon. Thirty six men, with a platoon sergeant, and the basic impediment to most military formations, the platoon leader. Total, 38 warm bodies.

In the standard infantry company you would have three infantry platoons, a headquarters section, and maybe a weapons section, where you find your heavy crew served weapons. Total, approximately 150 hungry mouths. These are planning figures.

TOE = Table of organization and equipment.
FEBA = Forward edge of the battle area.

You are correct that the soldiers won't be involved in a classic defense of a battle position, where they would be expected to repel assaults. Their job would be much more difficult. They would be observing and capturing criminals who are infiltrating the United States. Those criminals might be armed, are certainly stealthy, and would require feeding and care.

Imagine the prisoner problem we had during Gulf war 1, multiplied by some factor. From a military standpoint, we would need additional MP companies to set up prisoner compounds so that the migrants could be processed and repatriated.

Standard Mischief said...

Their job would be much more difficult. They would be observing and capturing criminals who are infiltrating the United States.

I don't know, again, he said "Guard units will not be involved in direct law enforcement activities – that duty will be done by the Border Patrol."

They may not actually be doing anything other than spotting and calling the Border Patrol.

That sounds exactly like the civilian observers ("Minutemen"). That is, if you believe the Minutemen. If you believe the ACLU, the Minutemen are pistol-whipping the poor refugees and holding them hostage, illegally.

I don't think the Minutemen are getting a fair shake with the media, although they sure as heck picked a lousy name, what with the "militia scare" of the 90's.

I don't think they are getting a fair shake with Border Patrol management either.

Nick said...

The word is that our National Guard will be relatively unarmed too. What kind of crap is that?

Pawpaw said...

Nick, my boy, this is crap of the largest kind. Not only ain't the Guard going to secure the border, the Guard ain't equipped to secure the border. They're good, no doubt, at a lot of things.

I read now where there will be about 6,000 troops assigned. Assigned to do what, I ask?

Nick said...

Well, I like the idea of the Guard helping to secure our borders. After all, though I support the War on Terror, I have doubts at times about whether or not the National Guard should be overseas. After all, isn't the main role of the National Guard to protect the nation here at home? I think we should properly equip the Guard to help in the lockdown of illegal immigration on both borders. However, 6,000 troops with no M-16's or real weaponry of any kind will deter no one from continuing to cross illegally.

Standard Mischief said...

It sounds to me that Bush is walking a thin line between many in his “base” by appearing to “do something” about border security, and the people who would freak out over militarizing the southern border. He also does not want to tick off those who sympathize with the illegals (I'm both, BTW)

6,000 Guard troops ain't a drop in the bucket. It's a charade.

They're coming across the border out of economic necessity, and they are are willing to live as a second-class citizen in order to work and (frequently) to send money home. Both the D's and the R's have turned a blind eye for years. Living as the second-class “shadow citizens” does nothing at all to integrate these immigrants into our great nation's culture.

On the other hand, they are still illegals, and I do not support any kind of amnesty unless it involves illegals declaring themselves, and then requiring them to leave the country before applying for a green card. No permanent residency without English and the standard knowledge about our country's history and culture.

By any means possible, Bush will try to cram his worker program, which is good for big business, down everyone's throat.

The underling problem here is we here in the USA have utterly failed to transplant the uniquely American freedoms to our nearest neighbors (let alone anywhere else in the world). Even Canada, our sister nation to the north has the rights of it's subjects derive solely from the kindness of the government. The USA is unique in the entire world where rights are recognized as inalienable, and are not granted by the grace of our government (and if you can see the handwriting on the wall, you'll see where those rights here are heading).

What we have had great success doing is passing crap like NAFTA, which directly helps large global corporations by allowing them to move jobs and assets overseas, gaining favorable labor rates and tax advantages, but only indirectly helping USA citizens via “trickle down”.

Kelly(Mom of 6) said...

Can you say...detention camps?

Nick said...

NAFTA and CAFTA do need to be repealed.

Don Cortez said...

The only way we are really going to Secure The Border is to make such a stink publically to Congress. To that end I have started a web site that is accepting donations in the name of The American People. Check it out at: www.notpcyet.com and if you agree then make a donation. The plan is to collect enough money to offer it to the Dept of Homeland Security publically on one of the news networks. I have written Glenn Beck and Hannity, and O'reily about this but I need public donations 1st. The site is safe and secure and the donations are thru PayPal.