Army Unit to Deploy in October for Domestic Operations
Beginning in October, the Army plans to station an active unit inside the United States for the first time to serve as an on-call federal response in times of emergency. The 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent thirty-five of the last sixty months in Iraq, but now the unit is training for domestic operations. The unit will soon be under the day-to-day control of US Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command. The Army Times reports this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to Northern Command. The paper says the Army unit may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control. The soldiers are learning to use so-called nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals and crowds.
I posted about it back here, and spelled out a few of my fears here. Well, I'm not satisfied that we're out of the woods yet. From The Progressive:
This week and into next, NorthCom and NORAD are conducting a joint exercise called "Vigilant Shield '09."
The focus will be on "homeland defense and civil support," a NorthCom press release states.
From November 12-18, it will be testing a "synchronized response of federal, state, local and international partners in preparation for homeland defense, homeland security, and civil support missions in the United States and abroad."
NorthCom is short for the Pentagon's Northern Command. President Bush created it in October 2002. (The Southern Command, or SouthCom, covers Latin America. Central Command, or CentCom, covers Iraq and Afghanistan. And the new AfriCom covers, well, you get the picture.)
Vigilant Shield '09 "will include scenarios to achieve exercise objectives within the maritime, aerospace, ballistic missile defense, cyber, consequence management, strategic communications, and counter terrorism domains," the press release states.
NorthCom's press release also says that other participants in the exercise include the U.S. Strategic Command's "Global Lightning 09," which is a plan to use nuclear weapons in a surprise attack.
The Pentagon's "Bulwark Defender 09" is also involved in the exercise, and it is a cyberspace protection outfit of the Pentagon.
Something called the "Canada Command DETERMINED DRAGON" also is participating, as is the California National Guard and California's "Golden Guardian."
California's involvement appears to center around planning for a catastrophic earthquake.
"Under the leadership of Governor Schwarzenegger and direction of his Office of Homeland Security, the nation's largest state sponsored emergency exercise will take place November 13-18," a press release from the governor's office states.
"Golden Guardian 2008 tests California's capability to respond and recover during a major catastrophic earthquake. The Golden Guardian 2008 full-scale exercise scenario focuses on a simulated, catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake along the southern portion of the San Andreas Fault."
NorthCom is being shy about giving out additional information about Vigilant Shield '09. When I called for a fact sheet on it, I was told there was none.
But the Pentagon did issue such a fact sheet for Vigilant Shield '08.
Last year's exercise included "the simulated detonation of three nuclear dispersal devices." The fact sheet stressed the need to support a "civilian-led response" and to "exercise defense support of civil authorities," including involvement in "critical infrastructure protection events" and coordinating "Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection activities."
That fact sheet ended by saying: "There will be minimal deployment of active duty forces and no crossborder deployments. We anticipate little to no direct impact on local communities."
NorthCom has been in the news lately, after the Pentagon designated to it a battle-tested fighting unit from the war on Iraq. This appears to be against the law, according to the ACLU, since the army isn't supposed to be patrolling our own country. [Emphasis added.]
On top of that, NorthCom was up to its eyeballs in getting peace groups spied upon.
"The security people at USNORTHCOM . . . had begun noticing some trouble at a few military recruiting events in 2005," Eric Lichtblau recounts in Bush’s Law: The Remaking of American Justice. "Military officials at NORTHCOM asked their counterparts at CIFA [the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Field Activity] to ping their powerful new database—do a broader study and find out how many episodes of violence and disruption were actually imperiling their recruiters."
And NorthCom even was in the loop at the Republican Convention in St. Paul.
Is it too much to ask Congress to look into NorthCom?
Pardon my language, but what the fuck is this about?