Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nothing to see here! Stay in your homes!

From the Army Times:

"The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.

Now they’re training for the same mission — with a twist — at home."

Hey, I actually think we have a term for that! Having the military patrol the streets at home.... Oh, what is it? I can't remember...

To be fair, they're also talking about helping in cases of natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

And, then there's this "new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities."

"They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control..."

Crowd control? Really? Maybe I'm a bit old-fashioned when it comes to creeping martial law. But, I can't help thinking that this is a bad idea. Don't get me wrong- I have great respect for our men and women in the armed forces. I just don't like the idea of politicians and local political idiots deploying them against unruly citizens. If it helps, the founding fathers weren't keen on the idea either. But, you know, that was back in America 1.0, and not the post-9/11 reboot.


Brian Dunbar said...

But, I can't help thinking that this is a bad idea.

This is not a new mission - it's only the command and control that is novel.

Since the 60s the standard practice for the Marines was to assign 'civil unrest' as a secondary mission for the MEU just back from their 6-month float overseas. Training is a priority but they can usually mount out with a day or two of notice.

The Army probably has a similar tasking - but I can't speak for them.

Rufus said...

Do they really? I always figured that was the national guard. How often do they actually get used? I think what worries me is just the idea of some local dingbats using them like their local police force.

Brian Dunbar said...

Do they really?

Yup. Marine Barracks D.C. (three short companies of infantry plus an equal number of clerks and jerks) have as a secondary mission 'riot control' in D.C. This mission was taken seriously enough in the late 80s that

a) Every Marine assigned to the barracks was required to take and pass the 'civil unrest' correspondence course.

b) The battalion spent a valuable week every other year training for that mission at Quantico.

I was never in a MEU so I have no fist hand knowledge of how they did that stuff - but I'm aware they had that mission.

I always figured that was the national guard.

First the mayor had to call the governor, who calls out the national guard. When or if the Guard needs help, the governor calls the President. So there has to be some serious civil unrest for all of this to happen.

How often do they actually get used?

Not often. I know during the last LA riots Marines were deployed after the Guard had been in place for a week. I do not know if they were used, or just deployed and sat around for a few days 'just in case'.

I think what worries me is just the idea of some local dingbats using them like their local police force.

It could happen, but there would have to be a lot of unrest happening that overwhelms both the local police AND the Guard.

And even then the military can't arrest anybody - what we were told is we could knock people down and detain them, but our job was to turn them over the to local police asap.

The rules could always change of course.

And, from the point of view of a grunt who trained at this, you do not want Marines doing riot control. They're young, they're not from there and they're very motivated and clannish - if you point them at a bunch of rioters they will maintain discipline but it will be like a threshing machine going through a wheat field.

They won't see 'citizens' they'll see 'targets who need to be knocked down'.