Northcom has announced that two more U.S. military units will be assigned for domestic homeland security missions, bringing the total number of combat ready service members operating inside the U.S. to around 4,700, as fears grow about the increasing militarization of law enforcement.
The announcement follows the controversy surrounding a September 8 Army Times report (revised on September 30), which revealed that the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, fresh from combat duties in Iraq, would be operating inside America for tasks including “civil unrest and crowd control,” a detail that was later denied by Northcom despite the concession that forces would be armed with both non-lethal and lethal weapons as well as having access to tanks.
“In the next three years the military plans to activate and train an estimated 4,700 service members for specialized domestic operations, according to Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, commander of U.S. Northern Command, which was created in 2002 for homeland defense missions,” reports the Colorado Independent.
“It’s to help us manage the consequences of a large-scale event,” said Renuart. “We have one [unit] now trained and equipped and assigned to the Northern Command. We’ll grow a second one this calendar year of 2009 and a third one in the calendar year 2010 so we can provide the nation three sets of capabilities that could respond to an event of the size of 9/11 or larger.”
But as Mike German, national security counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union’s legislative office in Washington., D.C., points out, “This isn’t a military police brigade or a civil affairs brigade. This is actually a combat brigade being assigned a domestic mission.”
“It’s fine for the general to say that,” said counter-terrorist operations specialist German. “But we want to know what the policies actually are, what the roles are and what the regulations are to see whether this is actually complying with the law.”
The ACLU has filed a Freedom Of Information Request demanding more information on the purpose and scope of military assets under Northcom control being deployed domestically.
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