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A War of a Different Kind: Military Force and America's Search for Homeland Security by Stephen M. Duncan

Jacket: Hardcover
Pages: 366 pages
Publisher: Naval Institute Press; (2004)
Genre: Military
ISBN: 1591142202

Comments about the author: Stephen M. Duncan is the Director of the Institute for Homeland Security Studies (IHSS) at the National Defense University (NDU), Fort McNair, Washington, D.C. IHSS is an educational and research component of the University which provides homeland security/homeland defense education to civilian and military leaders from the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, other federal departments and agencies, congressional staffs, state government, and private industry.

Review: Terrorism struck again on July 7, 2005 in London. Terrorists could strike somewhere else in the world or even again in the United States. Two weeks after the London attack there were smaller attacks again in London on July 21 st. Stephen Duncan’s book discusses the ins and outs of this new war on terrorism, war not against another nation, but against an unknown number of people in terrorist groups especially Al-Qaeda. Some nations like the former Iraq under Saddam Hussein seem to support the terrorists as an enemy of the United States. Other nations like Iran and North Korea have been listed by President Bus as part of the “axis of evil.”

Stephen M. Duncan’s background gives him expert eye on the issues of homeland security and defense against terrorism. He served as assistant secretary of defense for President Reagan and President George H. W. Bush. He was the Pentagon’s senior drug war official. He was decorated for his actions in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He has been a federal criminal prosecutor, trial counsel and chief executive officer of a defense industry technology company. He earned a BS from the U.S. Naval Academy, an MA in U.S. government from Dartmouth College and a JD from the University of Colorado. He is the author of Citizen Warriors, an account of the use of the National Guard and U.S. Reserve in the Persian Gulf War. He presently is a fellow at the National Defense University, Ft. McNair, Washington, D.C.. and so has continued his awareness of the issues addressed in this volume.

Duncan discusses the United States’ defenses or readiness against terrorist attacks before the September 11 th Attacks and afterwards.

He points out the government’s failure to take seriously the possibility of an attack in the United States. The first Bush and Clinton administrations were researching the possibility of a terrorist attack on the U.S., but were extremely slow in acting on policies and program changes.

Duncan discusses the problems with out of date laws not reflecting with technological advances. The USA Patriot Act was a quick reaction to this deficiency. Now many people and organizations are opposed to renewing parts of this Act because they see it as an invasion of privacy with great potential for abuse.

Duncan examines the issue of the use of the National Guard and the Reserves for homeland security; although these two forces were used during the Persian Gulf War and are currently participating in the war in Iraq. Duncan points out that their use in law enforcement would not be effective since they are not trained for that mission; there are also legal issues since they are not part of a law enforcement agency; to whom would they answer when they are acting as police officers? Is it the governor or the president? There is the question of jurisdiction if the National Guard is used for homeland security, investigating terrorism or in capturing terrorists when they come upon the scene with law enforcement agencies charged with the same task. Duncan concludes that the role of the military is basically to defend the country and not to be police officers.

Duncan also examines how the military has changing thinking tactics and equipment to fighting terrorists. They were trained to fight nations in traditional wars. They do well with that, but they have not done so well in switching gears to combat this new kind of enemy because it could involve combating terrorists in our midst as the recent events in London have demonstrated.

This is not an easy book to read, but it is worth the effort. Duncan addresses issues thoroughly and documents his material well with endnotes and an index. This book is recommended for those interested in America’s defensive situation against terrorism before and after the September 11 th Attacks.

— Reviewed by: Br. Benet Exton, O.S.B.
St. Gregory's University, Shawnee, Oklahoma


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