The Jake Files

January 9, 2006

Border Fence

Good old-fashioned ingenuity in Iraq solving real problems:

SINIYAH, Iraq (AP) – Villagers watched from rooftops as U.S. military bulldozers heaved a wall of sand into snaking lines around their homes Saturday in an attempt to trap insurgents believed to be hiding among them.

The drastic tactic in Siniyah came after weeks of increasingly bold insurgent attacks, including almost daily roadside bombs targeting 101st Airborne Division soldiers patrolling the village, 250 kilometres north of Baghdad.

“This is not in any of the courses they teach in the army,” said Maj. Shawn Daniel, who oversees operations for the 3rd Brigade’s 33rd Cavalry Regiment. “But if bad people are coming to Siniyah to attack coalition forces, let’s catch them at the gate.”

Spanning 10 kilometres and broken by watchtowers to be manned by Iraqi security forces, the three-metre tall crude barrier is the army’s latest tool to rout out insurgents.

Construction was expected to last several days. (emphasis mine)  Once complete, all vehicles leaving or entering the village will be stopped as soldiers look for known insurgents, bomb-making materials and illegal weapons.

So, the army can erect a crude barrier in a matter of days to keep terrorists out of an Iraqi town, using nothing but what they already have on hand in Iraq.  The estimates for a fence on the southern US border with Mexico run $1.5 to $2 million PER MILE:

WASHINGTON — The House voted last night to build nearly 700 miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border as it began the first major floor debate in years on enforcing immigration laws.
    
    The vote, 260-159, came on an amendment to a border-security and employer-verification bill that is scheduled for a final vote today.

Mr. Hunter’s plan calls for 698 miles of fence at five locations along the 1,940-mile border. The barrier would be modeled from the San Diego fence, a two-layered reinforced fence with roads, surveillance cameras and sensors. Cost estimates run from $1.5 million to $2 million per mile.

So, some quick math leads me to believe it would cost $1 billion to $1.4 billion for just the 698 miles proposed in the bill on December 15th.  To cover the whole border with Mexico, it would cost between $2.9 and $3.9 billion.

If the military can use their initiative to solve a problem like this in short period of time with just the tools they have available, why can’t the Congress and the Dept of Homeland Security do the same thing at home?

The answer:  the political will to do it.

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