Combat Experienced Soldiers to Stay in US and Assist with Civil Unrest, Etc

I am a firm believer that the best defense is a good offense. With that is my regular and continuing support for our armed forces–particularly those in current hot areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is therefore with some concern that I read the following in the Army Times:

Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

It is not the first time an active-duty unit has been tapped to help at home. In August 2005, for example, when Hurricane Katrina unleashed hell in Mississippi and Louisiana, several active-duty units were pulled from various posts and mobilized to those areas.

But 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.

All of those other federal agencies which are to take care of disasters–not to mention all of the state agencies including the National Guards and we need a group of  combat-trained soldiers (whose group has spend half of the last 5 years in and out of battles in Iraq) to deploy on American soil?

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.

Training for homeland scenarios has already begun at Fort Stewart and includes specialty tasks such as knowing how to use the “jaws of life” to extract a person from a mangled vehicle; extra medical training for a CBRNE incident; and working with U.S. Forestry Service experts on how to go in with chainsaws and cut and clear trees to clear a road or area.

The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

The package is for use only in war-zone operations, not for any domestic purpose.

Glad to have the clarification of that last sentence, but still . . . “help with civil unrest”? Why would soldiers be trained in something offensive which they will not use? Does the army not know that as citizens we are glad we do not live in a state where members of the military are simply an extension of law enforcement?

In an article titled “The Myth of Posse Comitatus” written almost 10 years ago, a member of JAG says the following:

The erosion of the Posse Comitatus Act through Congressional legislation and executive policy has left a hollow shell in place of a law that formerly was a real limitation on the military’s role in civilian law enforcement and security issues. The plethora of constitutional and statutory exceptions to the act provides the executive branch with a menu of options under which it can justify the use of military forces to combat domestic terrorism. Whether an act of terrorism is classified as a civil disturbance under 10 U.S.C., 331–334, or whether the president relies upon constitutional power to preserve federal functions, it is difficult to think of a domestic terrorism scenario of sizable scale under which the use of the military could not be lawfully justified in view of the act’s erosion. The act is no longer a realistic bar to direct military involvement in counterterrorism planning and operations. It is a low legal hurdle that can be easily cleared through invocation of the appropriate legal justification, either before or after the fact.

In other words, the Federal government may use whatever justification it chooses to deploy troops on American soil without becoming concerned with legal matters. It would appear that this law has been ignored or circumvented to the place where it (like several portions of the US Constitution) is little more than history–and a bothersome history at that.

11 thoughts on “Combat Experienced Soldiers to Stay in US and Assist with Civil Unrest, Etc

  1. Currently there are hundreds of thousands of troops stationed CONUS. Due to the nature of their calling, the vast majority of them have conservative ideas and vote that way. They are sworn to protect the Constitution and are some of the brightest, most educated “soldiers” ever fielded by any military in the history of mankind.

    The Guard & Reserve units have always had such a mission in America.

    Where would you station our United States all volunteer American citizen force? Clearly you have never served. I find this article asinine and repugnant. You insult better people than you with your cowardly insinuations. There are plenty issues in our great country to be concerned with. The courage, valor, and honor of our armed forces is NOT one of them.

    1. Stace,

      Yes, there are hundreds of thousands of US troops stationed here in the continental United States. That is as it ought to be. After all, most of them live here when not fighting or otherwise serving overseas.

      As far as being sworn to protect the Constitution, I do not know if you realize it, but we’ve a number of political leaders who have also sworn a similar oath–and have shown us by their actions that they take it very lightly. An oath may be considered sacred by some, but others toss it aside as easily as yesterday’s leftovers.

      If you (regardless of whether you have served) had read the Army Times article you would note that this is the first time we are seeing this type of “dedicated assignment” in the US. That is what concerns me. I am quite grateful that we’ve had a pretty clear distinction here in the US between our military and civilian protective/emergency entities.

      I hardly called into question the “courage, valor or honor of our armed forces.” I did express concern at the apparent deployment of combat trained soldiers to perform tasks in this country which have been the responsibility of civilian police forces.

      Your finding this article “asinine” and “repugnant” as well as my words to be “cowardly insinuations” speaks to your apparent knee-jerk reaction to protect the military. While I applaud your protective behavior, I find your lack of understanding of the context to be troubling.

      1. We have had military assigned to such duties in CONUS and abroad throughout the history of our country. This is not a new event, regardless of your understanding of it as such. These are not storm troopers having sworn an oath to their fuehrer, these are the best our country has to offer.

        If you had ever served a day in your life, you would understand my reaction. In that you have not, thus the shock of the blind man learning the elephant’s trunk is not a snake.

        You would question the loyalty of our armed service members as a whole because of your views about self serving politicians? Again, you clearly do NOT understand the life style or the patriots that serve our country. A smart person would realize they overstepped the bounds of decency and retreat with an appropriate gratuitous apology. You confirm in your response my understanding of your comments that you in fact question the loyalty of our military.

        You sleep under the protections that those good people provide you. Who are you to malign them in such a fashion? They have proven their loyalty to the Constitution and this country through their service and oaths. What have you done?

        Your comments are akin to the Obama administrations own DHS warnings about conservative military veterans being potential terrorists.

        Next time, why don’t you write an article touting the dangers of the internet warriors who enjoy the protections of the US military all the while deriding their service through insinuations and “concerns” about their loyalty to the Constitution and this great country.

        Constant Conservative my behind.

        1. Stace,

          I am sorry to see that you have difficulties staying on message. I never once said a word about storm troopers or the fuhrer and find it very discouraging that you should throw them into the mix. I do believe I would have the same reaction to the article regardless of who the Chief Executive might be.

          Claiming that I would understand your “reaction” (yes, not a measured response, but a reaction) if I had ever served is to do a disservice to all citizens who never wore a uniform. Can we not understand and appreciate our armed forces without being/having been part of them? Absolutely. And I do and I will.

          I stated that taking an oath says little these days about whether or not one will keep it (one only has to consider marriage vows to see that). I had said nothing of oaths or loyalty until you brought it up. I had questioned the wisdom and legality of the use of soldiers for what should be a task designated to non-soldiers.

          I do not sleep under the protections which are provided to me solely by our military; I also sleep under the protection provided by the rule of law, a foundational piece of which was ensuring that the standing army did not serve as a police force for whoever the politicians were at any time. A quick search on the Bonus Army events of 1932 will show the negative consequences of such actions.

          You take a simple point and incorrectly extrapolate it to a place I never intended or desired to go.

          If you had wanted to say “This is much ado about nothing,” and provide me data to back that up, it would have been one thing. To impugn my character as a person is another matter all together and does you no credit.

          I wish you well in your campaign.

          1. Michael,
            Your other posts have a relative sensibility to them. Why the departure in this one about our armed forces? Were you not aware that your insinuations would be offensive? When you clearly became aware that the statements were taken offense too, why the dogged stubbornness to adhere to them? Were you that unaware that our military has always had such mission subsets? Have you never heard of the military going in during national disasters such as Katrina, etc? Were you unaware of the specialized Marine unit near DC that is there specifically for bi/chemical/nuclear threats to our capital? The bigger story here is that Obama has explicitly stated that he wants to create a civilian security corps to take over that mission subset and other domestic security issues. Therein should have been your story and your fears. Our military has a huge conservative bias do to the nature of the persons attracted to serve their country and the culture of the military. The fact that DHS wrote about the individual veteran as a threat to the Obama administration (to their liberal ideologies of socializing America) as they return home from service should have been your first clue. While I will admit that our military is not perfect, and there always is a chance that things can go amiss anytime you employ troops or cops in crowd control, your dismissal and inferences were made out of ignorance for their capabilities, training, and culture. I would not think to write of the complexities of vascular surgery; however, if I did, and when I surely would get it wrong, I would not be so entrenched in my ideas or pride as to not be able to say I got it wrong… In that you do not understand my heated mother hen defense should tell you the military cultural issue is more complex than you understand. I look forward to the day when we can discuss this and other matters over a cup of coffee. God bless…

          2. Stace,

            I’ll thank you for your “relative sensibility” remark (though it smacks of faint praise). I suppose that simply means you don’t disagree with other posts so vehemently as you do this post.

            Since you took the time to ask a number of questions, I shall do you the favor of responding–though, to speak plainly, I would prefer not to.

            1. No departure in this one from my standard “sensibility.” I asked questions about a break in the pattern which I found concerning. As I noted earlier, you could have said “much ado about nothing” and given me some data to back that up. Instead, you unloaded both barrels and then reloaded.

            2. My “insinuations” were not found offensive by a very recently retired Lt. Col. in the Air Force (a regular reader of this site) whom I requested to review what was being said to determine if I was missing something because, unlike you and him, I was not blessed with time in military service. That you found my questions and statements offensive is unfortunate but hardly foreseeable on my part.

            3. Do you back down with what you believe because someone finds offense? I believed and stated that I was concerned about the “permanent assignment” of those who were combat-trained with reference to their being set to address “civil unrest” among other things. I am still concerned about it. I still believe in the basis for Posse Comitatus and am saddened if we are indeed at the point in this country where the president may easily work around it. Again, see Bonus Army.

            4. I am aware that our military has done a number of different things–and once again I was concerned that this particular group was being given an assignment which appeared out of the ordinary. National Guard under the command of the governor is one thing, troops from our standing army are another. And, simply because our military has done something once does not make it right if it should not have been done under our laws.

            5. Yes, I am aware of our military going in after natural disasters such as Katrina–and I was quite uncomfortable with some of that as well for the reasons stated above–much as I was concerned with the Second Amendment being overruled by some of the LEO on the ground during Katrina.

            6. I was unaware of a special Marine unit of which you speak. However, that would make sense to me as DC would be considered (and is in essence) a military target, considering how many heads of this and chiefs of that (plus the President) are housed there.

            7. The news about Obama and civilian security forces is a year old. I was unaware of any recent movement in that regard. I addressed that at the time it came out.

            8. Again, going by the Lt. Col., our military has a conservative bias in the officers ranks and not so much in the enlisted ranks.

            9. You put down to “ignorance” what I see as you missing the point I was trying to make–that there are certain things which our military should not be doing within the borders of this country and my concern that the article was highlighting one of those things.

            10. As noted, I did seek advice from someone intimately connected with the “capabilities, training and culture” of the military. He’s not a vascular surgeon, but then that’s not the topic we are discussing.

            11. I fully admit to an imperfect understanding of the “military cultural issue” which I why I sought advice to fill in some gaps in my understanding. Your “heated mother hen” defense is what I referred to as an “knee-jerk reaction.” You thought I was badmouthing the military and immediately attacked–without paying attention to the context: my concerns about the legal basis of using military for civilian purposes.

            You will pardon me if I find your request to be FB friends, after you have attacked on my own site, to be received with some lifting of the eyebrows and a polite “no, thank you.” As a student of military history (though hardly up to date on the nuances of current military culture) I appreciate the principle of using overwhelming force on the enemy. I find its usage upon one who would (based on what I can see of your positions) have been likely to support you for public office to be more than a little off-putting.

          3. Michael,
            Maybe it is just as well that you did not serve in the military, or accept my offer of friendship, if your sensibilities are so easily dismayed or offended. It is not uncommon amongst Marines to cuss at each other as a form of greetings, especially in difficult living environments. It is also customary for Marines to train in hand to hand combat using each other as punching bags and shouting battle cries at each other in the process. If rhetorical banter offends your sensibilities, surely that violent warrior culture would have mortally wounded your domesticated sensibilities.

            While you address many things, you do not deny or retract the inferences that we should in some way be afraid of our service members for acting within a capacity that they have been assigned to going back to our military’s inception. To that end, I still condemn your comments. I make no apologies for defending those who bleed on our behalf, especially in the self serving circumstances you proffered such offense. In that I could have taken the milk toast approach and said “much to do about nothing” is correct; however, you could have shown the proper respect and confidence in our military to begin with and this conversation would never occurred. You were the one that reflected the article out of context and married it with an unidentified “JAG” unrelated opinion about the Posse Comitatus to create an article about something you admittedly knew little about.

            You show your lack of understanding of our military by assuming that our military is one culture. The culture in each branch is different. Marines share the cultures of both the Army, the Navy, and one totally alien from the other branches of service. The Marines and the Army are the first line ground troops for the country. POTUS may send Marines into hostile areas any place in the world, without the permission of Congress. For 90 days If memory serves me correctly. The least touchy feely branch of the armed service branches are the Marines. They have no doctors, no dentists, and the least amount of women and officers. Every Marine is a Grunt (basic rifleman) and every Marine is trained for combat regardless of his job title. Marines share an eternal fraternal bond that transcends generations, race, and gender. One of the mottos adopted by Marines is “No better friend, no worse enemy” as appreciated by our allies and enemies across the globe and history.

            #7. I believe there was $12 Billion allocated within the health bill for such a force? The FBI budget for 12,000 high paid civil service employees is only $7.+ billion. If so, that was a story your concerns would have been duly appropriate in.

            #9. Our military members take an oath to defend our Constitution and this country against enemies both foreign and domestic. That oath applies clearly to defend our families here at home. There are people in this country that qualify as domestic enemies. Arguably, if one such domestic or foreign faction should take up arms to attack our citizenry, our state, county, & city law enforcement are ill equipped to handle such a scenario. It is part of our service branches mission to defend our country, with that first defense being here at home. The National Guard and Reserves fall under the control of the Joint Chief of Staffs, thus the repeated deployments of their units. So are you suggesting we should never use military forces within the USA during incidents in the hopes that it is not a terrorist attack, armed insurgency, armed invasion, etc? As a purported student of military history, surely you have read of the fog of war and the overwhelming advantages an attacking unit has in surprise? Do you see the error of the premise of your argument?

            Your contrived article and comments were off base because you were out of your depth. Whether you want to own up to that is beside the point. You could bring in Billy Mitchell himself and it would not change that. There is nothing wrong with overextending, making a mistake, being in error, etc.. The true measure of a man can be made in how he reacts to such a situation

            You admit that your comments expressed concerns about our services being employed within the USA with inferences that they would be a threat to our citizenry. I took appropriate offense to that. Technically you attacked me, and our veterans, in your comments implying that we should be scared of our services for being involved in mission sets that you were unaware they were involved in dating back to our military’s inceptions. I defended that attack. When I saw that you did so out of ignorance, I tempered my irritation. I then offered conciliatory expressions and the proverbial olive branch just as I would to a blind man who stomped on my toes in passing or a Marine that punched me in the mouth during training. Your disdain and rejection of that is a reflection on you, not me. My liberal Democrat opponent may be more to your sensibilities as he has shown the propensity to take both sides of any issue and he is a member of the party in power which has expressed similar concerns about our veterans in DHS warnings about conservative veterans such as me.

            If you would let your irritation at being confronted about your argument in a forum you invite other to do so, override the support of my clearly conservative ideologies, what does that say about your own adherence and dedication to those ideologies?

            God bless…

  2. It is common that if an offense is taken, where none was intended, an apologetic declaration of such is offered. You make no such offer, and confirm that the understanding that you questioned the loyalty of our armed services in your comments, were correct.

    Your ignorance as to the deployment of our military personnel is the crux of the problem which you created when you inferred, and then stated, concerns regarding the loyalties of our service members.

    It is clear that I have taken offense at your impugning of our armed services. To the extent your inferences were of that intent, again you have offered no apology for the offense taken, and you have openly confirmed your inferences within your rebuttals.

    I would encourage you to study your history books to discern that our “militia” has always been called upon to serve the public in such capacity dating all the way back to the days of our countries inception. The United States Marine Corps was even tasked with having to guard the US Mail at a juncture in our history.

    It is pure arrogance to assume that you understand the complexities of the service, sacrifice, the culture, the details of what it is like to serve in the armed forces. You do not “appreciate” their service through calling into question their loyalties to our country, for twisting the gist of the Army Times article, and inferring that we should be afraid of our own sons and daughters in uniform!

    If you would like a measured response, please officially consort with the Obama administrations in their explanation of their shared disrespect of our veterans when they made similar comments regarding their concerns about our veterans being potential terrorists due to the veterans’ conservative views.

    We are responsible for our words and writings. Yours were understood to be an insult to our military. You have confirmed the understanding of those statements and offered no apology. You are not the wounded party here, you are the protagonist offender.

    It is that understanding you gave me and which you leave me.

    Good day.

  3. **Note: To all reading this exchange, please read the comments in time-stamp order (with the nesting things are a little out of sequence).**

    Stace,

    The time has come to end this discussion. I have attempted multiple times to tell you that I was and am concerned about certain uses of the military–based on law. You place your faith, apparently, in military personnel doing the right thing. I place what faith I have in humans and human constructs in the rule of law–knowing that humans have remarkable capacity to do wrong things. You took the concerns which I voiced and made them about your honor–which was not and is not my intent. I am grateful that you served. Since you pointed out that I had not served, I sought advice from someone (now multiple individuals) who have, in order to broaden my understanding of those areas which are outside my personal experience. You are apparently unwilling to admit that those others who have served might not share your perspective. You apparently discount the Air Force, claiming that the culture there does not match the culture of the Marines and Army. I could go on, but there is little to be gained from doing so.

    When someone posts a comment on my site, they do so within the context of my world–not theirs. If you wish to have a rough and tumble discussion with those who share your desire for verbal combat, put-downs, and the like, I am certain that you can find such adventures on some of the milblogs. I fully confess to an unwillingness to take the statement that I “insult better people than [me] with [my] cowardly insinuations” with good grace. That was one of the very first things you said to me in this exchange–and hardly set the tone for a reasonable debate. For my failure to continue the exchange without heat and with perfect clarity, I apologize.

    My concerns and my arguments are imperfect. I fully realize that. Once again, you could have noted that I was making “much ado about nothing” and brought up some data to back up your position. Instead, you attacked me as a person–rather than the point I was making.

    My original point remains: I do have a strong concern about using the military for civil matters which should be, and historically and legally have been the responsibility of civilian police forces.

    I do pray that God will bless me, and you and all who would desire that this country of ours continues to be a place where freedom may be found.

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