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Federal Forces and a role in the Homeland
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Any number of people seem to be in a tizzy over the suggestion that federal forces (Army, Navy, Airforce and Marines) be used in a domestic capacity in times of natural disaster or an attack on the homeland.
The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.

The long-planned shift in the Defense Department's role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said.

There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military's role in domestic law enforcement.
This plan is not one, as I understand it, which would violate the Posse Comitatus Act. If it did, then I'd be against it.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the libertarian Cato Institute are troubled by what they consider an expansion of executive authority.

Domestic emergency deployment may be "just the first example of a series of expansions in presidential and military authority," or even an increase in domestic surveillance, said Anna Christensen of the ACLU's National Security Project. And Cato Vice President Gene Healy warned of "a creeping militarization" of homeland security.

"There's a notion that whenever there's an important problem, that the thing to do is to call in the boys in green," Healy said, "and that's at odds with our long-standing tradition of being wary of the use of standing armies to keep the peace."
But they'll not be there to keep the peace. They'll have no law-enforcement role. They will be there to support the federal effort in specialized areas (chem, bio or nuclear decontamination, logistics, medical, transportation, aviation, EOD, etc.).

The fact that such a force could be tailored to the needs of the situation and deployed quickly may be critical to containing the damage of a certain type of attack or disaster. However, military leaders must be very carefully trained to understand that they may not, under any circumstances accept orders which would put them in a law-enforcement or peace keeping role. Such an order would be an unlawful order - in direct violation of their oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States - and thus one they could and must refuse.

Their use must also be closely monitored and assessed to ensure that "mission creep" in a direction which would violate the Posse Comitatus Act isn't allowed to happen. A carefully planned use of Federal forces in a Constitutionally acceptable role should not be something we fear. Ask disaster victims worldwide how they feel about US military forces who respond to such disasters. Shouldn't our own citizens have access to the same sort of relief?
 
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So, will regular military be in-country performing these roles, while the National Guard is overseas?
 
Written By: Is
URL: http://
So, will regular military be in-country performing these roles, while the National Guard is overseas?
Uh, no - the regular military will support any such effort and the NG will do its regular role which includes law-enforcement. I.e. both will be involved.

NG from all over the country are available to any governor(s) who need them in time of disaster or attack - all they have to do is request them.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
It may not technically violate PC. But it removes a logistical hurdle and makes ending the PC only a legislative hurdle. Usually if something is also a logistically hurdle, the legislative hurdle is all that harder to overcome.

Whereas if its purely a legislative hurdle, a fickle congress/public can be made pass anything.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
I trust the military. I do not trust the people that will direct the military. Remember Waco.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
This is also the "if you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail" problem. Using the military is an admission that despite billions wasted in the name of homeland security there is no civilian capability to respond to attacks with weapons of mass destruction. In fact, there is no capability to go into difficult areas and even find out what is going on, never mind establish law and order: Katrina proved this.

I agree with the PC concerns about this but think it also should be opposed because:
1. it is an admission that Homeland Security in general, and Chertoff in particular, is a total failure in preparing to protect America and
2. it frees Homeland Security to continue to waste vast sums of money without any responsibility to build capabilities to protect America from the very sorts of incidents that a centralized Homeland security department was supposed to address
 
Written By: Robert L.
URL: http://www.neolibertarian.com/blog2/
Robert L, for some things it makes sense to use the military. Why develop NBC defense, detection and decontamination units in the civilian world when the military has them in relative abundance? Why invent or keep inventing the wheel? And the same for transportation and many logistics functions, why develop a civilian capacity that may never be used, when the military has excess capacity, in most cases? Example, why buy HEMTT’s and HMMWV’s for a civilian truck/disaster logistics unit, when you can use the NG’s 2387th Truck Battalion? Why buy a ROWPU for FEMA, when the 4589th Quartermaster Detachment (Water) can give you the same capacity? And finally, it’s nice to be able to fall back on men and womyn who have a .50 caliber HMG or a SMAW, and know how to use it? I understand the CA NG gave sterling service in the Rodney King Riots, meeting a UNIT that had automatic weapons and knew how to use them calmed things down on the streets...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"But they’ll not be there to keep the peace. They’ll have no law-enforcement role."
Okay then, Bruce. I will be at my ease and never worry that any of this will be put to any other use by a long tradition of government-creep.

I can smile & nod with the best of them.

Have a nice day.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Uh, no - the regular military will support any such effort and the NG will do its regular role which includes law-enforcement. I.e. both will be involved.

NG from all over the country are available to any governor(s) who need them in time of disaster or attack - all they have to do is request them.
I agree re:nat’l guard. I don’t see the point in expanding the mission of regular military. If you need more guard, get more guard. Or, stop sending them off for multiple tours overseas.
 
Written By: Is
URL: http://
Well, there’s one thing we know for sure, those "idiots" in DC will do anything they damn well please because there’s nothing to stop them from doing it.
 
Written By: Brown
URL: http://
If you need more guard, get more guard. Or, stop sending them off for multiple tours overseas.

You don’t grasp the nature and funding of the National Guard do you?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
McQ:
I am less sanguine about the intent than the mechanics. According to an 8Sep08 article in the Army Times, the 1st BCT commander said, "The 1st BCT’s soldiers will also learn the first ever nonlethal weapons package that the Army has fielded referring to crowd & traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue dangerous or unruly individuals without killing them. The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty roadblock; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets."

Notwithstanding the humanitarian aid language, that sounds pretty damn close to law enforcement to me...or am I missing something?
 
Written By: Unscripted Thoughts
URL: http://
Unscripted, IF the Governor or the POTUS declare marial law, the military IS IN THE LAW ENFORCEMENT business, always has been...again why develop civilian capcities when military ones exist, trucks, decontamination gear, tents, food, water resources, fuel bowsers and the like?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"...again why develop civilian capcities when military ones exist, trucks, decontamination gear, tents, food, water resources, fuel bowsers and the like?"
I wonder how many people here realize the import of a question like that.

Is that really to be taken seriously?
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Is that really to be taken seriously?
Why not? Those "idiots" in DC own the best private military force in the world and they can do anything they damn well please with it.
 
Written By: Brown
URL: http://
Joe the orientation of civilian agencies is always going to be different and the difference is important.

For example, all military NBC training assumes you know attacked you and you just need to get on with the mission. If there is terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction figuring out who actually did it, both directly and indirectly (if a third party built the weapon) is vital.

As for efficiency, why have three branches of government when one executive can do it all? Sometimes theoretical efficiency is not as important as insuring a free republic. Historically the record of governments putting troops in the streets for anything declared as an emergency is not particularly good.

Also remember that a central government can call anything it wants to an "emergency." Emergencies can easily be used to reward friends and punish enemies: I’d prefer that be done with the military.
 
Written By: Robert L. www.neolibertarian.com
URL: http://neolibertarian.com/blog2/
aargh! of course my last comment should have ended in "I’d prefer that be done without the military"
 
Written By: Robert L. www.neolibertarian.com
URL: http://neolibertarian.com/blog2/
I agree with Billy Beck. Nobody has more admiration for our Armed Forces than I do, but I also have a great deal of suspicion about some of the people who do or want to run my government and control those Armed Forces. The sight of a US Army armored vehicle destroying a civilian building in Waco on the orders of the attorney general ought to be enough to scare the hell out of anybody and make them VERY chary of putting that sort of power within easy reach of our rulers.

Robert L. also makes a good point. Just because the military CAN doesn’t mean that the military SHOULD. The British made that mistake (among many others); we don’t need to repeat it.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
Robert L, sorry you’re wrong...the FIRST thing to do in the event of an NBC attack is what the military NBC units, do...identify the agent, ascertain the extent of contamination, and undertake IMMEDIATE remediation...not the Law Enforcement job of determining WHO did it...That’s why arson is hard to prosecute, the fireman show up and fight the fire, not determine IF a crime has occurred and who might have committed it. So too with an NBC attack, the first responders will be RESPONDING, not gathering evidence, whether they be the FEMA Southeast Regional HazMat Emergency Response Team, or the 3rd Platoon of Alpha Company, 291st Battalion Chemical Corps. Bottom-line: your objection is without merit…what the NBC crew does will be the SAME, no matter who signs their cheque(s). So again, why hire FEMA Federal employees to do a job that the Armed Forces already have the training and equip to perform?

Oh and Beck, were you making an objection? With your usual logic, precision and clarity you failed to make a cogent case, one way or the other…and still I wonder how it is that Anarcho-Capitalism fails to catch on in this nation, considering the talent of those who espouse it.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I trust the military. I do not trust the people that will direct the military. Remember Waco.
What strikes me is the similarity between Waco and the Wounded Knee incident. Both involved cults with a focus on the end days (more so, and more dangerously the Native American version), and both incidents touched off over an attempt at arms confiscation.

Both ended up with a lot of dead non-government types.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
"...you failed to make a cogent case, one way or the other..."
I didn’t have to, dummy. You made it for me.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"...you failed to make a cogent case, one way or the other..."
I didn’t have to, dummy. You made it for me.
I made the argument that you can’t argue and you agree?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
An addition to the argument about military vs. civilian agencies in response to various types of disasters:

Some make the argument that, because the military has certain capabilities, there is no need to duplicate them in a civilian agency. The argument has merit, but I don’t agree. First of all, the argument can be extended almost ad infinitum: because the Navy has superb fire-fighting methods and equipment, does this mean that the Navy should take the place of our local fire departments? Special units like Delta and Seal Team Six are highly trained and well equipped to deal with hostage situations; shall we disband all our city and state SWAT teams and simply call the military the next time some thug takes hostages when he fails to stick up the local bank? The military has shown in places like post-war Germany and Iraq that it can do a decent job of running cities and even entire countries under VERY difficult circumstances; should we replace our mayors, governors, state assemblies, etc, with Army civil affairs teams?

Of course not (though it might do California some good!).

Further, thanks to drawdowns and "the peace dividend", the military isn’t as large and doesn’t have such a presence in as many states as it once did. How long will it take an Army chemical battalion to get to a suspected NBC attack site vs. how long will it take the local HAZMAT team?

Finally, there is the real and important issue of local control (i.e. federalism). I would much rather have my city, county, and state spend some extra money on (for example) NBC-qualified HAZMAT teams than rely on Washington to send in the troops if something really bad happens in my hometown. Politicians in DC are no more competent than the wardheelers we have around here, but they don’t have to live here after the dust settles and so don’t care AS MUCH about how problems get solved. Again, remember Waco: things might have ended so much differently with so few deaths had the feds stayed the f*** out and let the local or Texas state authorities deal with the problem.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://

 
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