published Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Military expert has unique ideas to stop Georgia's attempt to grab Tennessee water

  • photo
    Andrew Exum speaks to the Chattanooga Rotary Club at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
    Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE — Watch out, Georgia, because Tennessee now has a ready-to-use military defense plan designed to keep your peach-picking hands out of the Volunteer State's Tennessee River water.

And East Ridge, well, you better get used to being part of ground zero in the firefight.

In a tongue-in-cheek article published on wired.com on April Fools' Day, Chattanooga native Andrew Exum outlines how the Volunteer State can best deploy troops to deter a potential Georgia invasion to gain access to Tennessee water.

He's calling for a "static defense," which assumes the main line of invading, water-crazed Atlantans and Georgia lawmakers will strike in suburban SUVs coming up Interstate 75, before turning west on Interstate 24 to Chattanooga and the river.

"It's a natural place to construct an L-shaped ambush," he writes. "I'd place .50-caliber machine guns on the north side of the split, in the vicinity of the old Eastgate Mall, aimed down I-75."

Mortar positions would "dig in" north of Brainerd Road, near the Sir Goony's Family Fun Center. Exum also would "establish a skirmish line along Ringgold Road, with my main line of defense along I-24 and I-75, and a secondary line of defense along Brainerd Road and Lee Highway."

Exum knows his stuff. He's an International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He once led U.S. Army Ranger forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But he warns that drivers of Georgia's military convoy of suburban SUVs cannot all be counted on to stop at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Dalton, Ga., and "lose interest."

"The other problem is that the University of Tennessee's performance against the University of Georgia last year [in football] -- in which Tennessee's defense tackled like a bunch of Pop Warner 8-year-olds -- doesn't fill one with a lot of confidence about our state's ability to stop much of anything coming out of Georgia," Exum acknowledges.

Georgians, for now, seem intent on pursuing a more peaceful path to gain access to Tennessee River water. State lawmakers there last month passed a resolution once again trying to resolve the disputed state border, which Georgia claims was messed up in a faulty 19th century survey.

They want to talk to Tennessee leaders but warn they'll march north -- not to Tennessee but to the U.S. Supreme Court -- to resolve the issue.

Tennessee lawmakers repeatedly have said they have no intention of giving land, or water, to Georgia.

Contact staff writer Andy Sher at asher@timesfree press.com or 615-255-0550.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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