Sunday, December 11, 2011

Militarism for Hire in Texas

Operation Border Star constitutes what Rick Perry calls the “Texas model of border security.” Since 2006 Perry and Steve McCraw, Perry’s longtime chief of the state’s homeland security office (located in the governor’s office who also has served since 2009 as the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), have boasted of the model’s success.

McCraw prefers the term “paradigm of border security.” The report declares that the “success of border operations by the Texas Rangers should serve as a template for the future.”

But they have offered little evidence to back up their repeated claims that Operation Border Star has played a central role in improving public safety, obstructing transnational crime, and securing the nation.

Texas Border Security: Strategic Military Assessment echoes the assertions of Perry and McCraw. The report’s authors, Ret. Generals Robert Scales and Barry M. McCaffrey, write:  “Five years of effort to curtail narcoterrorist intrusion has given the Texas DPS and its state and local partners enormous and hard-won experience in the art and science of fighting the southwest border war."

As its title indicates, the report describes the border as a war zone and recommends military-type responses.  It recommends that Texas should reach out to other border state and the federal government to teach them “how Texas border operations work.”
The report calls the Texas border the “operational ground zero” in the alleged invasion of Mexican narcoterrorists, echoing the alarmist threat assessments of Perry and McCraw. According to the generals- turned-consultants:

America’s fight against narcoterrorism, when viewed at the strategic level, takes on the classic trappings of a real war. Crime, gangs and terrorism have converged in such a way that they form a collective threat to the national security of the United States.

The military-assessment report was published by Colgen LP, which is a “defense consulting firm” directed by Ret. General Robert Scales. McCaffrey runs his own security consultancy, BR McCaffrey Associates LLC.

Colgen’s motto is “America’s Premier Land Power Advocate.”

Credibility of McCaffrey in Question

Pointing to military reputations of the report’s authors and to their status as “independent consultants,” the Texas agricultural commissioner vouched for the integrity and certitude of the alarming conclusions of their strategic military assessment.

Yet the report was commissioned to bolster a political position, and the consultants were hired to boost the credibility of the widely contested assessments of border security and government border security operations.

The consultants came through with a product that met the government’s specifications and also met the standards of the military consultants – in the case of Colgen and General Scales, being a premier advocate of militarized solutions through land power.
In the case of McCaffrey Associates and General McCaffrey delivering what the firm promises: “Our purpose is to get specified results for clients who want action” -- hardly the hallmark of an “independent” consultant.

McCaffrey’s credibility – and his own familiarity with the Texas border – came into question immediately upon the release of the report. He asserted that “hundreds of people are murdered on our side of the frontier" by the drug cartels and transnational gangs targeted in the report. McCaffrey couldn’t come to supporting the assertion. The only approximation of this scenario is that over the past decade hundreds of immigrants have tied from exposure and dehydration during their arduous trips through the Texas borderlands.

However, those who have followed McCaffrey’s career know that the general is widely considered a war criminal for massacres during his command during the first Gulf War, and is also well known for his mercenary punditry.

(See Hired Gun Comes to Texas for more about McCaffrey.)

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