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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

U.S. Army Brigade to Be Deployed Within U.S., Starting October 1

3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, after spending three of the last five years in Iraq, in "full battle rattle" are to be deployed on mainland U.S. soil, the Army Times is reporting.
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....

Training for homeland scenarios has already begun at Fort Stewart....

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

“I was the first guy in the brigade to get Tasered,” said Cloutier, describing the experience as “your worst muscle cramp ever — times 10 throughout your whole body.

The brigade will not change its name, but the force will be known for the next year as a CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force, or CCMRF (pronounced “sea-smurf”).

“I can’t think of a more noble mission than this,” said Cloutier, who took command in July. “We’ve been all over the world during this time of conflict, but now our mission is to take care of citizens at home ... and depending on where an event occurred, you’re going home to take care of your home town, your loved ones.”
Glenn Greenwald points out in this article in Salon that:
For more than 100 years -- since the end of the Civil War -- deployment of the U.S. military inside the U.S. has been prohibited under The Posse Comitatus Act (the only exceptions being that the National Guard and Coast Guard are exempted, and use of the military on an emergency ad hoc basis is permitted, such as what happened after Hurricane Katrina). Though there have been some erosions of this prohibition over the last several decades (most perniciously to allow the use of the military to work with law enforcement agencies in the "War on Drugs"), the bright line ban on using the U.S. military as a standing law enforcement force inside the U.S. has been more or less honored -- until now.
Here is a detailed article by Alan Bock on why the use of professional military forces to enforce law on our home soil is not a good idea - and why that practice was formally outlawed in the Posse Comitatus ("power or force of the country")Act of 1878. (See also the Insurrection Act of 1807.)

The Posse Comitatus Act was passed in response, in part, to suspicion that federal troops influenced the election of 1876. From Alan Bock:
The Posse Comitatus law was passed in 1878, not only in response to some of the abuses committed by federal troops during the Reconstruction period in the South after the Civil War, but more specifically after many suspected that federal troops influenced the election of 1876, in which Rutherford B. Hayes was chosen by the Electoral College and federal troops ran some polling places in the South. Specifically, Hayes won the disputed electoral votes of South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida, states where President U.S. Grant had sent troops as a posse comitatus by federal marshals at the polls if deemed necessary.
More as it develops.

September 24, 2008 4:28 p.m. PST - Edited placement of words "full battle rattle" in first paragraph.

(Photo: U.S. Army Soldiers in Abrams tanks from 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division make their way back to mock Forward Operating Base Dallas after conducting combat operations during a mission readiness exercise on Fort Stewart, Ga., Oct. 1, 2006. The unit is preparing for an upcoming deployment to Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Johancharles Van Boers) (Released))

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