|Sections of the Texas-Mexico border are similar to war zones our brave men and women serving in uniform face as they defend freedom in foreign lands.
President Obama and his administration refuse to take any serious steps to improve our defenses, which we desperately need to meet the clear offensive by Mexican cartels and their American gang allies.
Now is the time for our nation to stand behind leaders like Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who has devised a plan to defeat cartel activity in the United States and secure our border.
In November 2011, Commissioner Staples enlisted Gen. Barry McCaffrey and me to perform a study of Texas border security and put a military-strategic lens on the situation.
Our report found that transnational, organized criminal activity originating in Mexico is spilling over into the United States, and Texas is the frontline in this conflict.
Texas landowners were being threatened and assaulted by cross-border gangs and narco-terrorist activities.
Sadly, two years later, because of a lack of the will to win, sections along the Texas-Mexico border region are disintegrating and becoming even more dangerous places to live and raise a family.
America must act now or everyone's livelihood in this nation is at stake.
Here are the facts: In the first 11 months of the 2013 fiscal year, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended 389,099 undocumented immigrants along the southwestern border sectors from California to Texas. The most apprehensions by far occurred in Texas, with 212,881 in South Texas alone. South Texas has seen a 30 percent increase in apprehensions from a year ago.
Here is what every American needs to know: There is a frightening and growing connection between cartel intrusion and global terrorism. It's not a coincidence the largest Iranian embassy in the world is in Venezuela. Think about the proximity of South America to the U.S.-Mexico border -- it is much closer than the Middle East.
On a regular basis, our hardworking agents with the Border Patrol are arresting Middle Eastern men trying to sneak across our border.
Approximately 80 percent of all undocumented immigrants from countries other than Mexico are apprehended in South Texas.
Terrorists have determined where the hole in our defenses is located, and it's along the border in South Texas.
We have no idea how many of these potential terrorist sleepers have gained entry into our country undetected.
The Department of Defense spends billions on missile defense to protect us from nuclear Armageddon.
Yet it appears the odds of a nuclear strike may come from a terrorist carrying a dirty bomb across our porous southern border.
Hope is not lost; leaders like Commissioner Staples have been developing solutions to secure our border.
For years, Commissioner Staples has spent time in the border region working with farmers and ranchers who are threatened daily by cartel activity.
Staples has taken savings from his agency to aid in the expansion of the Texas Department of Public Safety's Operation Drawbridge.
This initiative installs and monitors low-cost, high-tech motion-detecting cameras on landowners' properties to improve surveillance capabilities along the Texas/Mexico border.
Since January 2012, Operation Drawbridge has led to the apprehension of more than 18,000 individuals and the confiscation of nearly 40 tons of drugs.
Commissioner Staples has a six-point plan to reform immigration that starts with border security, and it does not include amnesty.
The commissioner hasn't just talked about border security; he's actually done something to fix it.
It's leaders like Commissioner Staples that we need if we are to win this fight and secure our nation once and for all.
Having worn the uniform of the U.S. Armed Forces defending our freedoms around the globe, I am offended not only by failed leadership in the White House, but also by politicians who's only solution is to chase headlines calling for border security.
We need leaders who lead. We need leaders who propose solutions and deliver results.
Todd Staples is the man I trust to get it done.
It is critical to note, this is not just a South Texas problem. This is not just a Lone Star State issue.
This is an American fight for security. We have an exposed flank, and if we fail to secure it, our enemies who want to destroy us will use this weakness against us. I pray we act before it is too late.
Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales is the former commandant of the United States Army War College. The above op-ed first appeared in the El Paso Times.