Joint Chiefs Issue Doctrine on “Homeland Defense”

A new publication of the Joint Chiefs of Staff presents U.S. military doctrine on “homeland defense” (pdf).

“It provides information on command and control, interagency and multinational coordination, and operations required to defeat external threats to, and aggression against, the homeland.”

See “Homeland Defense,” Joint Publication 3-27, July 12, 2007.

The document further extends the unfortunate use of the term “homeland” to refer to the United States, a relatively recent coinage that became prevalent in the George W. Bush Administration.

Not only does the word “homeland” have unhappy echoes of the Germanic “Heimat” and the cult of land and soil, it is also a misnomer in a nation of immigrants.

Moreover, “homeland” is defined by the military exclusively in terms of geography: It is “the physical region that includes the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, United States territories and possessions, and surrounding territorial waters and airspace.”

This means that actions to defend the Constitution and the political institutions of American democracy are by definition excluded from “homeland defense.”

For the Joint Chiefs, constitutional liberties are subordinate to, and contingent upon, physical security:

“To preserve the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, the Nation must have a homeland that is secure from threats and violence, especially terrorism.” (page I-1).

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