US Army assigns unit to a mission in … the US

There are a variety of conspiracy theories circulating about how the Bushistas will try to create a situation to declare martial law and suspend the Nov. 4 election, if it looks like Obama is going to win it. I am skeptical about these theories, but this story did give me pause: The US Army has assigned the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team to the US Northern Command – for active duty in the United States. This is the first time an active unit has been assigned to NORTHCOM, and the keywords “civil unrest,” “crowd control” and “non-lethal capabilities” in this story from the Army Times are definitely going to raise some eyebrows:

(via Democracy Now)

[The 3rd Infantry’s 1st BCT] 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.

“It’s a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they’re fielding. They’ve been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were consolidated and this package fielded, and because of this mission we’re undertaking we were the first to get it.”

The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.

Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1, Army Times, Sep 8, 2008

With a different administration, I would be much less worried, especially considering that this is just one military unit. But with the Bushistas I have come to expect the worst, and then look below that expectation.

[Update 9/25: fixed the reference to the US Northern Command and added Wikipedia link.]

Update: The controversy in this story lies in the application of the Posse Comitatus Act, a law that was enacted by the US Congress after the end of the Reconstruction Era – the ten-year occupation of the former Confederate States by US Military to protect the newly freed slaves. The Posse Comitatus Act prohibits the use of the US military for law enforcement in the United States. Without an act of Congress, the US President cannot use the troops assigned to NORTHCOM.

Comments are closed.