As I sit here watching a rerun of the movie Saving Private Ryan, I am reminded of the history lessons I learned growing up and all of the books about World War II that I used to read. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the Nazis rolled through Europe, every American citizen was expected to answer the call. Able-bodied men were expected to sign up and go to war. This was a time before women were allowed to serve, so women stayed at home and replaced many of the roles and jobs that the men had left behind. If you were medically disqualified from serving in the military it was actually something that you were ashamed to admit, not happy because you’d dodged out of it. And for those Americans who could not serve due to their age or medical status, or whatever other reason, everyone was still expected to ration food, buy bonds and do whatever they could to support the war effort.
We are at war again. And like World War II, when our country’s very existence was threatened, we need everyone’s support – and I don’t mean we just need to keep going shopping. This is a different war. In World War II, we could separate the good guys from the bad by the uniforms they wore. This time, the enemy lives among us, using kids and innocent civilians as human shields, as they go about targeting other innocents and soft targets.
The enemy is different, but make no mistake this is still a war. Our kids will live in a different world than we grew up in. For us to survive, for them to survive, we have to adopt new paradigms, adapt and implement new tactics and take on a different perspective. There is a role for everyone to fulfill as your civic duty and as a citizen of the United States of America.
Able-bodied men and women, we still need you to enlist as soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsman and National Guardsman. We need you to take the fight to the enemy, where they can be found in numbers, large and small, and where they have established a foothold. We still have the best military in the world and when properly used, they are unstoppable. It’s sad that so few who are able to serve, volunteer to serve. Just like in WWII, this country will not last unless there are good people willing to put their lives on the line to protect it.
Coasties and National Guardsmen, you have an additional role. There is no military organization that is singularly given the mission to defend the homeland – it’s a mission that’s shared amongst many branches, but Coast Guardsmen and National Guardsmen, you are the closest and best internal line of defense to the US. While the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are the sword, you are the shield. We do not have national response agency that will help restore the country when it is hit with a huge blow, and if you’re thinking FEMA, you’re wrong. FEMA is a coordinating agency, not an army of personnel ready to come restore peace, order, and essential services. FEMA relies heavily on the ability to call in resources from throughout the country, like Coasties and National Guard personnel, and other State and Local responders, like they did during Hurricane Katrina.
First responders, police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, we are asking you to step up to a higher level.
Police: Some people have criticized the so-called “militarizing of the police.” Yes, the police have changed, but so has the world we live in. We are now facing new threats within our borders, like the shooting of police officers in Dallas, and active shooters in San Bernadino and Orlando. These along with others, should reinforce the necessity for a well-armed and in some cases armored police force. If there is a terrorist attack here on our home soil similar to recent attacks in Paris, Brussels or Istanbul, we need well-equipped, well-trained, physically conditioned, and mentally prepared police forces to rapidly respond to eliminate the threat. I do not advocate using overwhelming force for what is a simple demonstration by civilians exercising their rights, but when someone is shooting up a school, shopping mall or airport, I WANT to see an armored police unit rolling in to save lives.
Firefighters and emergency medical personnel: I know you typically have waited until the police have mitigated the threat and made the scene secure before moving in to provide medical attention. But the nation calls on you to do more. Adopt the techniques of tactical medical response, which may mean carrying an armored vest and helmet and being prepared to go into a situation that is not yet 100% secure in order to save lives. We may not ask you of this in ordinary times, but we are a nation at war and everyone has to step up. The more your efforts reduce the damaging effect of a terrorist attack, the more resilient we become, and the less likely we will be targeted in the future – and if we are (and we will be, because this is likely to be a long war), then countless more will be saved due to your bravery and quick action.
Citizens, we also have a role. First, realize that we are at war. We’re at war with an ideology that will not stop until it achieves its objectives. And I am not just talking about Jihad; there are plenty of end-of-the-world cults, neo-Nazis and other individuals and groups with violent agendas. Those people will not stop unless they’re eliminated or imprisoned. Citizens, we need you to be more prepared. Just as we were prepared during the Cold War to take action during a nuclear attack (no matter how futile it might’ve been, at least we were united in the cause), we need to once again be prepared to take action and to take some responsibility for our own safety and security. When was the last time you took a first aid course? Do you know what to do in an active shooter situation? Do you have enough food and water to last a few days without power? There are other actions you can take which will be explored later in this series. Overall, the best thing you can do is to realize that we are at war, and we need to view the world differently than we did a few years ago.
Politicians and bureaucrats. Politicians, we need you to stay focused on the greater issues and not lose the stomach for the fight. Get educated on the issues before writing laws that appear to fix the problem, but in reality just make things worse.Bureaucrats, we need you to push aside your usual almost religious determination to adhere to the letter of every single rule, and start focusing on the outcome. Do the things that make sense, not just blindly adhering to a system that’s inefficient and ineffective.
The media also has a responsibility during this war. While we need fair and accurate reporting, we also need to understand that people aren’t perfect and they do make mistakes. Root out government incompetence and stupidity where it’s found, but go easy on those that try to do the right thing but make honest mistakes along the way. Also, interview those that really have the pedigree to be talking about the topic, not just whomever is available and portray them as some sort of expert. Lawmakers and the public’s perception is guided by your reporting and the words of some of these paper-experts, so if you want to keep the freedom of the press, then you have a role to play here. If we fail, free speech is one of the first things that will be tossed out the window by whoever steps in to take control. Remember, what’s wrong is always available, but so is what’s right.
Years before 9/11, we were at war with al Qaeda but most of us didn’t know it. Fifteen years after 9/11, we are still very much at war; unless we realize it, this is a war that we could lose. We’ve repelled every attack on this country since its founding, but now the threat is already inside our borders, and it’s time to wake up an answer the call. What can you personally do to contribute?
To read more of my posts on aviation security, click HERE.