We are, post 9/11, living in a whole new world of national security. The variety and intensity of threats will be such that long-range planning will prove difficult. America is going to need to be able to project force confidently, to get in and out of trouble spots easily, and to accomplish discrete missions for which overwhelming conventional or strategic military force is ill-suited.
Basically, we are going to need to invest more dollars in special operations forces. That’s the conclusion of the Bush administration, which is reportedly planning to increase funding for special operations units by $1 billion next year, with more on the way throughout the decade.
North Carolina’s parochial stake in this is obvious. The special operations command for the U.S. Army is located at Ft. Bragg, and the base comprises some of the key elements of our country’s special forces. It’s something that North Carolinians can feel proud of, though it also means that our families and citizens (be they natives or, more likely, newcomers) will shoulder a disproportionate burden in future overseas operations and conflicts.
But even if more federal outlays for special operations meant jobs in Massachusetts, or Wyoming, or even (let me grit my teeth) Virginia or South Carolina rather than here, North Carolinians should cheer. Our collective security depends on our military’s ability to perform operations like the successful (so far) Taliban campaign in Afghanistan. It is pointless to treat terrorism as a law enforcement problem; we will never be able to catch everyone and stop every terrorist plot before it bears fruit. What we can do is identify the states that sponsor or allow terrorism to be plotted and financed in their countries, and credibly threaten swift and severe punishment unless they play ball with us.
If things continue as they are, North Carolina and its military bases will play an increasingly important role in preserving American freedom — and, possibly, taking steps to expand that freedom abroad (which is now hugely in our own self-interest, if we want to live in a safe, secure, and commercial world). Don’t forget to keep checking our companion web site, NorthCarolinaAtWar, for news and analysis as the Iraq campaign approaches and America continues its struggle against Islamofascism and those allied with it.