What Would a Constitutional Military Look Like?

By Zak Carter, reprinted with permission from benswann.com

A Constitutional Military would call for far more than just an end of our overseas military bases. A standing peacetime Army is unconstitutional, our Founding Fathers abhorred them and warned us not to keep them.

From Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution –
“To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy”

The Founders made a clear distinction there between an Army to be called up when needed and a full time Navy.

“I am for relying for internal defense on our militia solely till actual invasion, and for such a naval force only as may protect our coasts and harbors from such depredations as we have experienced; and not for a standing army in time of peace which may overawe the public sentiment; nor for a navy which, by its own expenses and the eternal wars in which it will implicate us, will grind us with public burthens and sink us under them.” –Thomas Jefferson

“A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.” – James Madison, Father of the Constitution

So just what would a Constitutional military look like?

End the branch I myself served in, the Army and the Army Reserves. Save the Ranger battalions, Special Forces, and Delta units and their respective support units from the chopping block, because warfare has changed since the days of flintlocks and block formations. They would from then on serve as U.S. Marines. The Department of the Navy, which oversees both the Marine Corps and the Navy, is the only professional time of peace force the Constitution allows for.

End the Air Force, Air Force Reserves and the Air National Guard. There is no provision for an Air Force in the Constitution, and it’s unconstitutional creation only came about with the National Security Act of 1947. Any of their planes that the Navy deem necessary to their new defensive mission would become Naval aircraft.

A repeal of The Militia Act of 1903 would return control of the National Guard to the States, and each State would have a choice of keeping the status quo of a paid force, returning to a militia or a hybrid of the two. My guess is most States would return to a militia or at least a hybrid when they also get to foot the bill again.
Guarding the coast would once again become the Navy’s job, and so the Coast Guard can go back to being the Revenue Cutter Service as originally established.

This would leave us with the Navy, Navy Reserves and “the Navy’s Infantry,” the Marines and Marine Reserves, which is more than enough firepower to keep any enemy at bay. Reduction of those forces to reflect a defensive mission could follow. Letters of Marque and Reprisal would fill any gaps in Federal military capabilities.

If we don’t tie the military to the Constitution, we leave open the door to future Presidents willing to disregard the Constitution just as has happened for the past 100 plus years. It’s much harder to build a force big enough to invade the world in two 4 year terms and send it off than it is to just order invasions with a pre-existing military that is already designed for offensive campaigns. We have to change the structure, and not just the policy. Policy will not keep a Wilson, Bush, a Johnson or an Obama from using a standing peacetime Army unconstitutionaly. Thinking policy will keep us safe from an executive bent on bending to the will of the military industrial complex is absurd when we have a standing Army built for invading other nations. I’d also add that I agreed with Admiral Mike Mullen when he said “our debt is currently our biggest national security risk”, and I believe we have to cut back everywhere. Returning to the Constitution will show us the way.

“There shall be no standing army but in time of actual war.” -Thomas Jefferson

“It might be here shown, that the power of the federal legislative, to raise and support armies at pleasure, as well in peace as in war, and their controul over the militia, tend, not only to a consolidation of the government, but the destruction of liberty.” Robert Yates, written under the pseudonym Brutus, in the anti-federalist papers

In Liberty, Zak Carter

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