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Military Gangs in the United States Army, Research Paper Example

Pages: 9

Words: 2580

Research Paper

Overview

In the United States Military force, the prevalence of gang related activities has been increasing, and as such pose a threat to installation security, force protection, good order and discipline internally and externally, dispensation of discipline, safety in society,  the morale of law enforcement officers, and the sustenance of legal business activities (Intelligent Assessment, 2007).

The reasons for such dramatic increase in gang related activities within the military, according to Intelligent Assessment (2007), include

  • individuals seeking to escape current gang related lifestyles in their environments,
  • the opportunity available in the military to receive weapons, combat as well as convoy support trainings to gain advantage over law enforcement officers and rival gangs, and
  • To strategically position themselves to inflict terror and fear upon different areas of society to maintain dominance.

Other significant contributing factors were; the failure of military recruiters to achieve their recruitment targets, poor recruitment training, and a lack of proper background checks on individuals who are entering the army to avoid criminal convictions in the courts (Intelligent Assessment, 2007).

Unrealistic recruiting standards established by the military, have impacted negatively on the quality of recruits entering the institution, in that recruiting officers , according to August 2006 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report  saw a 5% increase in the number of military recruiters violation in 2005 over 2004 (Intelligent Assessment , 2007)

Military recruiters are under severe pressure, according to the report to meet the recruiting standards, and have resorted to the use of criminally violating actions such as document falsification and aggressive recruiting tactics to improve their numbers, which is what the Air Force and Army Navy uses to measure performance and not the amount of recruits that complete the basic training (Intelligent Assessment, 2007).

The threat to the economic, social and political aspects of the country is very severe, in that there are no accurate detail in gang related data in the military available to the FBI, as the military is not required to make such submission so that they could be incorporated in the Uniform Crime Report (UCR), but when military personnel are discharged criminal elements are often released to an unprotected society (Intelligent Assessment, 2007).

Present in within the military, according to Intelligent Assessment (2007), are  members of  nearly every major  street gang in the United States, including The Bloods, Hell Angels, Crisps, Black Disciples, Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings, The 18th Street Gang, various white supremacist groups and several other gangs.

It seems the United States army whose main purpose is to defend the country, was replicating the prison population within itself, and then releases them to spread harm and mayhem in society at future dates, when they are equipped with high levels of weapon and combat training renders law enforcement officers relatively inferior.

Nature of Crimes Committed by Military Gangs

According to Eyler (2009), the gang activities within the military covers the entire range of criminals activities and include retail distribution of drugs, the use of security clearance  and equipment in sophisticated drug schemes,, smuggling of weapons, murder, assault robberies (including banks), vandalism, money laundering and domestic disturbance.

Statistics available from the military, police and the FBI revealed that there were,

  • 10,309 criminal related activities in 2009,
  • 40 military affiliated Folk Nation gangs members at Fort Bliss Army installation in Texas involve in robberies, assaults, weapon offenses, and homicide on and off the installation site
  • 40 gang members involve in similar activities like those discovered at Fort Bliss present at Fort Hood , and
  • 50m gang and extremist group members at Fort Lewis army installation, among others according to Intelligent Assessment (2007).

Legal Implications of Military Gangs

According to Eyler (2009), gang members in the military undermine good order and discipline in the armed services itself as well as the stability of communities connected to it.  Congress seems to have realized this by its recent actions. The Secretary of Defense has been directed by Congress to develop appropriate regulations forbidding the active participation of service personnel in criminal gangs.

The military at times classifies gang related activities as conduct related matters that are outside the prerogative of the FBI and the police, and if and when these perpetuators are discharged, no information regarding their activities; which are considered criminal in civilian societies, are passed on to the relevant authorities to aid in their crime management strategies  (Intelligent Assessment, 2007).  Actions of this nature therefore endangers the security forces as well as society itself, bearing in mind the level of weapon training received  by these personnel  and their possible failure to adapt to civilian life as quickly as possible.

The legal environment is impacted negatively when the US criminal courts, according to Intelligent Assessment (2007), allows gang members to enter the military instead of going to prisons, or when individuals facing criminal charges or are on probation and are recruited, or when probation officers allowed themselves to be bribed into reducing the sentences of parolee, or when recruiters; in an effort to improve their recruiting performances, conceal the criminal records of applicants.

These individuals are likely to incriminate other members of the army, form gangs, threaten and destroy of both their peers and superiors, as well as commit several types of crimes. Additionally, their access to military weapons can empower criminal gang members to attack and destroy military installations that may be seen as acts of terrorism by investigators due to their superior training.

The legal implications from all of this is that tremendous  financial resources and time, sometime years, have to be expended by law enforcement and military officers to investigate these cases and then bring them to courts to obtain convictions.

Military gangs also threaten the legal environment in societies through the application of the Posse Commitatus Act, which is a primary legal restraint on military cooperation with civilian law enforcement agencies, according to Eyler (2009).  The Act Eyler (2009), continued does not limit the involvement of military police or investigators in any investigation of military nexus, but divides the law enforcement into military and civilian areas.

Criminal activities within the army were therefore facilitated through the bureaucratic implications of the act, and when transmitted to society in terms of the discharge of these personnel, can prevent the timely dispensation of justice.

Economic Impact of Military Gangs

The discharge of military personnel engage in criminal gangs back into society increases the likelihood of the crime rate increasing as well as the level of unemployment, due to fact that these individuals may have poor work ethic and may chose to pursue criminal lifestyles instead of working. They may choose to use their superior military training and experience, to establish gangs and live off members of society as well as business owners, knowing that the law enforcement officers are no match for them

A typical example according to Eyler (2009) was when a marine who was a member of the Noreno gang fatally shot a police officer in Ceres California in 2005. The military criminal gang member, who had served in Iraq, carefully chose a weapon he knew would penetrate the body armor of the officer and shot him dead.

Eyler (2009)  also went further to explain why he thought military personnel involving in gangs are a source of economic threat to society, when he pointed out that not even the military itself that knows the nature of these individuals track them when they are discharged into society. They can enter any community and destroy the economic life of even their entire population until several lives are lost when they are engaged and subdued.

Society itself also has to bear the often high financial cost of pursuing, apprehending, and prosecuting these individuals, but prosecutors cannot fully utilize the provision s of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which is used by military officers to rehabilitate members of the army who had violated certain tenets of the military code that did not lead to their automatic discharge, to achieve convictions in civilian courts (Eyler, 2009).

This is due to that fact that they run the risk of the Appellate Judges finding article 15 of the UCM J being prejudicial rather than probative in application, overturn the judgment originally handed down, according to Eyler (2009).

Social Impact of Military Gangs

Gangs should be studied according to Hagerdon (2005), because they are significant part of a worldwide phenomenon, consisting of millions of members, and are the voices of those marginalized by the process of globalization. Understanding these people is important to developing public policies and building social strategies that can lead to reduction in violence and remove deep seated inequalities that are often strengthened by the prevailing economic, social and military policies (Hagerdon, 2005).

Gangs, according to Hagerdon (2005) can become institutionalized and produce permanent social actors in communities, cities and nations, rather than fading away like the passing away of a generation. They can occupy the vacuum created by the retreat of social welfare policies of a state and rival or demonized political parties, but are often authors of destructive social, economic and political stability in cities around countries and across the globe (Hagerdon, 2005).

Similarly gangs from within the military can destroy the fabric of society while they are in the army as well as when they are discharged, and if they are allowed to become institutionalized without government taking actions, conditions can exacerbate even further.

Hagerdon (2005), cites further that when gangs become   institutionalized in societies they present more than criminal problems  by involving themselves in politics, religion and community organizations, so that it become difficult to remove them by means of suppression, repression or the drugs economy. Different sections of societies will then become totally dysfunctional and havens for the perpetuation of criminal cultures for several generations.

Potentially the danger of military gangs negatively impacting on society can be seen from two uncorroborated FBI reports in August and November 2005, according to Intelligence Assessment (2007).

In August 2005, a United States soldier in San Antonio Texas, was suspected of providing arms which include hand grenade and bullet proof vests to the Texas Mexican Mafia, while in November of the same year, a military gang member on active Navy duty in California, was found with fire arms and bullet proof vest, and was suspected of distributing stolen firearms and hand grenades (Intelligent Assessment, 2007).

These were indicative of military gang members using their security clearance as well as access to weapons and equipment to transfer illegal weapons to society, which will late be used to commit crimes which included robbery and homicides.

The Way Forward

The United States Department, according to Savelsberg, Cleveland, &King (2004), has declared war on terror and has redirected funds towards research in that area and way from social scientist studying military gangs behavior patterns. Reductions in this type of research of military gangs increases the possibility of polarization on the issue, and the less likelihood of  generally acceptable results being achieved, while society and the soldiers within the army remain at risk from a growing dangerous trend that can only lead to anarchy in the long run.

Gangs, according to Hagerdon (2005) are being produced by a combination of economic, political marginalization and cultural resistance, and must be studied with as much a broad based group of scientist as possible within the same context that constitute its development to develop solutions that can mitigate the threat of military gangs as well as terrorist and extremist groups that may jeopardize the safety of communities as well as national security.

Saint Leo University located in the state of Florida, serves students on military bases in seven states and worldwide through its Center for Online Learning (Saint Leo University, 2011), is the ideal model to aid any organization in its study of military gangs as well as developing strategies to reduce the impact of the phenomena on societal structure and safety, the economy, as well as on the legal environment which serves to render justice and maintain law and order.

This is because the institution’s core values which are excellence, community, respect, personal development, responsible stewardship and integrity, as well as its well seasoned professors will be able to successfully prepare students enrolling for all four and two year programs to launch careers in the military which is plagued by the threat of criminal gangs at all local and overseas locations (Saint Leo University, 2011).

These core values are exactly what are lacking in the military among recruits that are engaged in criminal activities that covers the entire spectrum. Community as one of the core values of the university allows students to develop hospitable Christian learning communities where ever they serve, and foster a spirit of belongingness, unity, and interdependence based on mutual trust and respect (Saint Leo University, 2011).

The university create socially responsible environments that challenges all its students to listen, learn, become transformed so that they can become empowered to serve in organizations like Interpol, ILEA, or the military that may set up task forces to counter terrorism and criminal activities within the military, require intelligence /enforcement gathering, collaborative law enforcement efforts, intelligence networks (Saint Leo University, 2011).

A thirty six year old university, with a track record for delivering on its core values as well as producing outstanding scholars that can drive success at diverse institutions nationally and globally, should be the target for all recruiters seeking to meet their military quotas, as well as providing high quality human resource personnel that can facilitate organizational and societal sustainability.

Conclusion

Military gangs really threatens every fabric of social life especially form a legal and economic perspectives , and the main reasons lies in the recruitment process where  military recruiters are driven by the desire to meet their goals rather than the quality of personnel entering the army and succeeding in the basic training program.

Judges; who provide alternatives in the military to individuals rather than allowing them to serve time in prisons are also contributing to military gangs, in that the army may not be able to effect the change necessary to transform them due to the presence and influence of gangs within the organization.

Limitations impose on the FBI and the police towards criminal activities in the military, reduce efforts to arrest criminals within the army because the military classify certain activities which are regarded as crimes in society, as conduct matters, rather than report them and allow these incidents to pass or implement rehabilitative procedure using the provisions of UCMJ

The problems .in the military will continue due to the change in strategy by the government to redirect research funds away from this critical area and towards fight terror, rather than adopting a shared approach that will enable social scientist are able to provide empirical evidence regarding how the level of criminal involvement in the army can be reduced.

Finally, the lack of  cooperation between the police and the military regarding discharged  military gang members entering society unannounced and becoming  a threat to the communities they reside in, needed to be changed urgent, so that these individuals can be monitored  and prevented from developing institutionalized gangs , which according to Hagerdon (2005), can become more than crime itself, due to the level of involvement of these gang leaders in community, religion and  political activities which makes it difficult to remove them.

Reference

Intelligent Assessment (2007).  Gang –Related Activity in the US Arm Forces Increasing National Gang Intelligence Center www.militarytimes.com/static/projects/pages/ngic_gangs.pdf , 10/17/11

Eyler, G. (2007). Gangs in the Military The Yale Journal 118 Yale L.J. 696 (2009)

Hagendon, J., M., (2005). The Global Impact of Drugs, University of Illinois Journal of    Contemporary Criminal Justice Vol.21 No.2 (2005) 153-169

Savelsberg, J., Cleveland, L. L., & King, R.D., Institutional Environments and scholarly work: American Criminology 1951-1993 Social Forces, 82, 1275-1302

Saint Leo University (2011). Core Values, Campus Life www.saint-leo.edu/campus-life  10/17/11

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