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First permanent ‘homeland security’ assignment for active duty US troops

First permanent assignment of an active-duty military unit to ‘homeland defense’ is starting on October 1rst.

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.

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.

This is the most annoying consequence of treating reserve units like front-line army units. The national guard units are being treated like active-duty military (rotation-wise) to keep the numbers deployed overseas up, causing losses both in operational effectiveness and morale and retainment due to the change in mission.

This is not to mention the issues with the national guard’s traditional mission in helping with natural disasters not happening (okay, that last was from the onion, but it’s one of the most tragicomic things i’ve ever read.) The line between reserve and active-duty are shrinking to help keep morale up, but this sort of deployment (where troops help enforce laws on citizens) causes some basic problems:

“Police officers responded to a domestic dispute, accompanied by marines. They had just gone up to the door when two shotgun rounds were fired through the door, hitting the officers. One yelled `cover me!’ to the marines, who then laid down a heavy base of fire. . . . The police officer had not meant `shoot’ when he yelled `cover me’ to the marines. [He] meant . . . point your weapons and be prepared to respond if necessary. However, the marines responded instantly in the precise way they had been trained, where `cover me’ means provide me with cover using firepower. . . . over two hundred bullets [were] fired into that house.”

From “Lessons in Command and Control from the Los Angeles Riots”, underscoring the difference in training between police and active-duty military units.

We’ve now reached the point where more sensible policy is being given on a television show than in real life, in other words the shark is now jumping the government.

Commander Adama, in the episode “Bastille Day”:
“There’s a reason you separate the military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.”

Here’s some comments from Bruce Schneier on a related topic.

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