EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Saturday after visiting the U.S.-Mexico border that the government needs a broader, more effective approach to border control. He suggested the Pentagon might contribute with its expertise in surveillance and monitoring. "How do we get out of treating the symptoms and get at the root of the issue," Shanahan said in an interview while flying back to Washington. Considering how the military could reinforce efforts to block drug smuggling and other illegal activity comes as the Pentagon weighs diverting billions of dollars for President Donald Trump's border wall.
Shanahan said he was not volunteering the Pentagon to take over any part of border control, which is the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security. But he said his visit led him to question whether there should be a "wholesale redesign" of the way border control is done by the federal government. Shanahan said the Pentagon is willing to continue supporting the DHS but wants to see a longer-term solution. (Associated Press)
Well, well, well. This Shanahan may be on to something. Maybe he can get everybody to get off their high horses and talk about a real solution. The idea of a defense in depth may be as applicable to the border as it is to the battlefield. How about long range sensing far into the Mexican side that is fully shared with Mexican authorities? Address the problem jointly rather than establishing a hostile border.
Whatever they come up with, they better learn from an earlier effort to secure the border through a purely technological solution. In a Christian Science Monitor article from 2011, the fate of the “virtual fence” or Secure Border Initiative network (SBInet) was discussed. “After $1 billion spent, the US has 53 miles of 'virtual fence' in Arizona. The high-tech project is too costly to extend along the whole US-Mexico border, the Homeland Security chief said Friday.” Wow! Spending $1 billion for 53 miles was too expensive, but $5.7 billion for 215 miles is now fine. And much of that new barrier will be vulnerable to shovels and angle grinders. Go figure. No matter what the final solution is, it will be expensive. The CS Monitor article does cover some good lessons learned. I hope all in our government would take the time to RTFA.