NORTHCOM? Calm Down.

Usnorthcom_crest "In a barely noticed development last week, the Army stationed an active unit inside the United States. The Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Team is back from Iraq, now training for domestic operations under the control of US Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command. The unit will serve as an on-call federal response for large-scale emergencies and disasters. It’s being called the Consequence Management Response Force, CCMRF, or “sea-smurf” for short.

It’s the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to USNORTHCOM, which was itself formed in October 2002 to “provide command and control of Department of Defense homeland defense efforts.”"   Amy Goodman


Hyper-ventilation is not a good thing.  Take a deep breath, everyone who is concerned about "sea-smurf."

In the obscure world of Army and armed forces function things are not always what they might seem to the outside observer.  I lived inside that system for many years. 

My analysis of how "sea smurf" came to be:

– First there was 9/11.  The national concern (hysteria?) about homeland security led to many precipitous actions, i.e., the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, Guantanamo, etc.

– The Defense Department looked around in the context of those times and decided that there was no headquarters that existed that had the mission to plan for US domestic emergencies and to coordinate resources across the Department of Defense for employment in support of civil authority in the event of such crises.  The individual services, the  Army for example, had headquarters that could do that but there was not an interservice headquarters.  Many people in the civilian world may have some difficulty understanding why the military is so focused on unified commands and joint planning.  It is a feature of military culture that has evolved from hard experience of failure in the absence of such a focus.

– Having established US Northcom as a "unified command" headquarters for this planning and coordination, the next thing the military would automatically do is write plans to establish what it is that the headquarters would do in emergencies of various kinds.  These plans would be approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense.

– The individual armed services would then receive the plans and the contingency tasking contained therein.  In response the armed services would establish service component commands; Army, USAF, etc. to carry the planning process down to the service level.

– Having done that, the services would assign forces against the plans.  In some cases the same forces would be assigned against a number of different plans in the belief that the different contingencies would not be simultaneous. 

– If the forces so assigned require preparation, then the service components would give the forces the task of preparing to execute the contingency plan(s) on order.  In the case of the brigade combat team (BCT) under discussion, this unit is in the US between overseas assignments.  There are only so many BCTs in the Army  Some unit would have to be so designated.

– There is nothing unusual or illegal about a US Army unit being stationed in the United States.  Are people really so ignorant as to think there is?

There is nothing illegal about a US Army unit being available to assist civil authority in an emergency.  Remember the 82nd Airborne Divison in New Orleans after Katrina.

The Posse Comitatus Act was enacted after the end of the Reconstruction period to prevent the use of federal armed forces in law enforcement.  White Southerners, having recovered their representation in Congress managed to have a law enacted to prevent a recurrence of military law enforcement of the kind that they had experienced during the military occupation of the South after the Civil War.  This is not the same thing.

"Martial Law" is also a different thing.  That occurs when a military commander, who has decided that civil administration has broken down in an area, uses his forces and authority to administer the area until civil authority is re-established.  This has rarely happened in American history.  The most famous occasion and the one taught in US Army schools, is that of Andrew Jackson at New Orleans in 1814.  A commander who decides to do this is normally called to account for the action in the civil courts after the end of the emergency.  Jackson was actually sued. 

– In summary, this whole Northcom, USARMYNORTH, BCT training thing is very normal activity.  Calm down.  pl

This entry was posted in Current Affairs. Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to NORTHCOM? Calm Down.

  1. DCA says:

    Another case of quasi-martial law was in San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake–in that case jointly decided by the mayor and General Funston. They actually never made an official declaration, Funston just acted without the mayor disagreeing.
    Thanks for the explanation. I hope you can see why this Administration has so many people a bit spooked.

  2. charlottemom says:

    This barely announced plan has certainly ramped up fear of late at a time when there’s lots of fear and panic coming from our leaders no less.
    I’ve read this story on the internet (armytimes) and have been puzzled and concerned by it. A suggestion that authorities fear some sort of unrest or disaster? Another pysche attempt to sway Americans one way or another through manipulation of fear? Or as you put forth – neither of the two.
    I suppose I’d ask why now? By an administration on its way out? Training soldiers just returned from Iraq? What additional or supplemental training do they need? Is this a Military or Homeland security initiative? both? National Guard not good enough?
    I need more reassurance that is just business-as-usual. I really want to believe that all this is no big deal.

  3. Dave of Maryland says:

    I was under the impression the military was to protect us from external threats. Are our borders with Canada & Mexico in danger? Is there a seaborne invasion in our future?
    If the US military is available for loan to civilian authorities, under civilian command, in times of local emergencies, that’s fine by me. Do the local commanders plan to report to governors, to mayors, or to city managers? To be under their direct control? As the military is, overall, to the civilian president?
    What specific military units can governors, mayors & city managers call upon, and under what circumstances?
    You will excuse my skepticism, but I haven’t heard of governors, mayors or city managers asking for military help.
    I have heard various governors complain their National Guard troops had been taken from them & were not available to assist during genuine disasters.
    Is it not true the military came to the aid of New Orleans only because the Louisiana National Guard had been press-ganged into the military’s proper job & so was not available to take the governor’s call?
    I’d like to see the military reduced to the role of military again. Rather than a universal panacea.

  4. Patrick Lang says:

    Your paranoia is showing.
    Charlotte Mom
    The military does institutional things very slowly. Five or six years is about how long it would normally take the military to get to the point of development of Northcom thatr you now see. You are afraid of American soldiers? pl

  5. Ormolov says:

    Thanks for your insight regarding this issue. It’s a relief to hear the voice of experience and moderation talking, especially when it concerns the possible further erosion of our country’s democratic institutions.
    I’m perfectly willing to accept the reasons you give as to the why and when and how of Northcom’s actions, but I think it does offer us an opportunity to explore the direction the DoD and the Pentagon are heading.
    It’s always been my belief that this Administration wouldn’t give up power willingly, and that they believe they had ‘solved’ the problem of representative democracy. I don’t believe it’s paranoid to cite Florida and Ohio election irregularities, the rise of the surveillance police state, and the politicization of the DoJ. Back in 2004, when European friends asked if Bush would beat Kerry, I told them it would take far more powerful adversaries than the voters to unseat them. I cited Wall Street, the CIA, and the Pentagon as the players who would be able to convince Cheney and his buddies to stand down.
    Now I don’t believe their October Surprise contains military action in the streets, but I do wonder:
    If that order did come down, could you tell us where the Pentagon stands, in terms of keeping this Administration afloat? We hear rumors, here, outside the Beltway, about principled soldiers standing up to the creeping takeover of their institutions, but could you as an insider please speak to where the Pentagon and DoD stand?
    I’m sure the armed services are filled with many many many wonderful patriotic Americans who put their country above their President, but could you tell us if those people are still in positions of leadership? Is this American Military 2008 as politicized and compromised as, say, the Departments of Justice, or State, or the EPA? And if not, who is it who keeps the Administration from that level of control?
    Sorry for the ellipses. I just want to discuss the political culture of the Armed Forces without putting my tin foil hat on.

  6. Patrick Lang says:

    IMO the chain of command, beginning with the Secretary of Defense would not accept orders that would violate the letter or the spirit of the constitution.
    In addition to the inclinations of the officer corps, the troops’ views would be a factor in such a situation.
    It is the will of the collective that would matter. pl

  7. Susan says:

    I appreciate your explanation Mr. Lang. I read here often for just this sort of expertise.
    Before this administration, I was not given to paranoia, but they have shown such disregard for all our institutions that I believe the public should regard them with distrust. And many of us do.
    Your question–You are afraid of American soldiers?–begs another one. How far would American soldiers go in responding to orders from the civilian command structure that they enforce martial law to prevent, for example, an election from occurring? It is not soldiers I fear, but our President, Vice-President, and their cronies, who may be about to lose the power that they have enjoyed for two terms.
    I hope you are right, as you often are.

  8. Paul says:

    I’m not in the least bit paranoid and I don’t, for a minute, doubt that the bulk of the officer corps would not violate the Constitution, but we have Special Operations forces shooting up landscapes all over the world in pursuit of “terrorists”. When hot pursuit becomes a course of conduct, I start to worry. Are the cross border attacks in Pakistan consistent with our Constitution? What would happen if a not-so-friendly nation overflew CONUS or Alaska or Hawaii? There is a double standard at work.
    NORTHCOM is doing the work that is really the mission of the National Guard. The NG should be beefed up if they don’t have the skills for NORTHCOM’s mission. Does the NORTHCOM mission have civilian (states, especially) oversight?
    Rumsfeld had the military spying of civilians and few took exception. Who is to say that the next Administraton might inot invent some new scheme for NORTHCOM?
    Defending the need for Northcom sounds exactly like the words of the British way back when.
    I just don’t like the idea of it. Congress should excise all the “war on terror” crap so we can all go back to being plain vanilla Americans. That’s why we have guns, or are those inner city guys hunting game?

  9. One of the most interesting things about NORTHCOM, created by statute, is that since its creation in the fall of 2002 formal delegations from the SECDEF have not been published as to its mission and various descriptions of its MISSION have never been made fully public and accepted as official by publication in the Federal Register as required by both the Federal Register Act of 1934, as amended, and the Adminstrative Procedures Act of 1947, as amended. Perhaps compliance with statutory mandates would be a start to alleviating concerns over NORTHCOM. Also interesting that to my knowledge has yet to be headed by a flag rank Army officer and in my opinion would make sense to have this be the ranking NG flag rank since the NG is most knowledgable about civil military relationships in crisis management and disaster response. Based on a determination by SCOTUS in 1983 allowing NG training outside the continental US, all NG enlisted and officer cadre take a dual oath, to the Governor of their state and to the US. Title 32 of USC governs NG activity until they are federalized and then Title 10 of the USC. One of the flags promoting concern was the recent public posting of info on a NORTHCOM exercise describing an exercise scenario where civil disorders were occurring based on food and energy shortages. FEMA in the 1980’s requested that all DOD civil support operational documents (such as GARDEN PLOT) be reviewed by the Department of Justice. Even earlier a very fine lawyer (now decesased) Mary Lawton wrote the DOJ handbook on Military Support in Civil Disorders correcting a number of erroneous DOD positions on implementation of martial law (this can only be done by the President in a geographically restricted area where the civil court system is not functioning and with the advice of the AG of the US). Mary Lawton was the head of the predecessor organization that led to the FISA court.

  10. Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA says:

    Pat, it would be useful to know what planning tasks & missions – specifically – have been assigned. It would also be interesting to know what this “CCMRF” offers that wasn’t available through JFCOM’s JTF-CS. And why a BCT? Why not a TF composed of engineers, civil affairs, comms and MPs as the Army component?
    Is it time to go rent “Seven Days in May” as a refresher? I take your point about the inclinations of the officer corps, however I know too many that apparently have more regard for the Republican party than the Constitution.

  11. Patrick Lang says:

    mike martin, WRC et al
    I, too, would like to know the particulars that you call for.
    I see no reason why an ARNG officer should not be the COCOM of NORTHCOM.
    JFCOM? My impression has been that the R&D and test bed function is their primary focus.
    If the airspace of the US were intruded on, there is no doubt that the intruder would be engaged if they could manage it. Would NORTHCOM be the command? pl

  12. bstr says:

    Dear Sir, I have a question, which I hope you take seriously. In speaking of the chain of command there always seems to be an implicit condition that everyone is on the same page when it comes to results. Do you believe that Sen. McCain speaking of honor and victory in Iraq shares the same understanding of those outcomes as Gen. Petraeus? I do not feel this question is off subject because of the earlier remarks about Northcom.

  13. R Whitman says:

    Having just gone thru hurricane Ike, I can tell you that a brigade of the regular US Army would have been welcome just to give some of the local law enforcement people,volunteers and National Guard a break. Most of them worked round the clock for several weeks before the got to take care of damages to their own homes.
    A self contained Army Brigade with its own logistics and supply can do a lot of good during FEMA emergencies.

  14. Dimbulb says:

    One hypothesis: NORTHCOM might have been created to allow the use of the regular military against the Mexican and Columbian drug cartels.
    When you consider the situation on the southern border, along with the endemic corruption and involvement in the drug trade of the military and police forces of Mexico,
    along with the increasing use of submersibles by smuggling operations, it’s not that far-fetched.
    That said, I, like many on this comment thread, do not trust the administration much. I agree with Col. Lang though that SecDef Gates would not allow a “Seven Days” situation to occur – even though these are some VERY CRAZY times we are seeing.
    (Incidentally, I have not seen any commentary on the role of money laundering in the current econ fiasco – although when reading the Yakuza chapter in McMafia, I was struck by the many similarities of then and now – any comments?)

  15. charlottemom says:

    You are afraid of American soldiers? pl
    No…more afraid of motivations of those that lead them.
    When there seem to be more questions than answers, I think concern is validated.

  16. ked says:

    Calm down? Absolutely…
    But there is always mission creep, the new hammer seeking some old nail (however did we manage without the Patriot Act or DHS?), and the spectre of a Cheney-like SecDef – but without the even-tempered, centrist pragmatism.
    When something new is devised in our American Experiment, the suprise is rarely of the moment, but in the oft-twisted future.

  17. Patrick Lang says:

    You fail to tell us that you are not an American. My question was directed at an AMERICAN lady.
    You remind me of the remark attributed to Porfirio Diaz, “Pobre Mexico, tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca a los Estados Unidos.”
    Want it in French? pl

  18. Patrick Lang says:

    I don’t support McCain for president but I think it is most unfair to think that either he or hos favorite general would use federal troops against the American people.
    Now Canadians might be another matter. pl

  19. J says:

    Regarding your airspace question. That would be NORAD/NORTHCOM who would be called upon to interdict an incoming airborne adversary. Gen. Renuart is the Commander of NORAD and USNORTHCOM.

  20. Walrus says:

    Stanley Milgram proved that around 60% of Americans can be made to do whatever authoritiy figures tell them to do. That includes torturing, shooting black, brown or white people. If anything I would expect the military to have an even higher percentage who would do exactly what they were told to do without question.
    You would also be familiar with Vietnamese experience that the dead were always “communists” and I’m sure on the part of the NVA the dead were always “running dog Capitalists”.
    To put it another way, unless I am mistaken, if soldiers can be told a halfway convincing story about who they are supposed to be shooting; as in: “These guys rioting and looting are the same Islamic gay warriors who killed Capt. XXX and have sworn to destroy the rest of us”, the troops will shoot.

  21. Cieran says:

    When I read the article about CCMRF in Army Times, I figured that they were being deployed to protect Bush and Cheney post-election-regime-change.
    Guess I’m just not paranoid enough…
    But consider that Rove can’t even go speak at a nearby university without getting his car pummeled and his sorry ass chased down the street by a small mob of citizens. And Rumsfeld had to abandon his visit to France to avoid getting arrested for war crimes.
    It’s a harsh and cold world out there for neocons these days.
    So what’s the likelihood that Bush and Cheney will be needing CCMRF to get them past the folks with pitchforks and torches come January 20th?

  22. Mad Dog says:

    “Now Canadians might be another matter. pl”
    Oh boy! Can we Minnesotans have Ontario and Manitoba, puleeeze? We could be bigger than Texas!

  23. Fred says:

    Seems like Amy’s being unjustly arrested in St. Paul at the RNC convention might have further biased her viewpoint. I can’t believe her implications with the comment about PTSD. As I recall the 101st was used not that long ago in Little Rock. Of course they were defending seven children from their fellow American’s.

  24. Watcher says:

    This is nothing new. When I was at FT Lewis from 2001 to 2006, minus when we were deployed, we had a standing mission to provide a Quick Reaction Force, to SUPPORT civilian authorities anywhere on the west coast in the event of a disaster. It was to provide support not run the show. It was a duty that rotated between the brigades at Lewis and the Marines down in California. There was always a clear chain of command between the lead civilian agency (FEMA or FBI) and us.
    So what is the big difference between what I was doing in 2001 and what this BCT is doing? They are the FORSCOM (Army Command responsible for overall training and readiness of Army units, would be the Army force provide) main effort to support NORTHCOM and like COL Lang said would have a dedicated mission (instead of rotating) and can commit themselves to training specifically for this mission full time until relieved by FORSCOM of this tasking. Unlike us, in which this was just another task amongst all the others.
    As for why not the engineers and MPs and stuff like that? We’ve organized those the majority of those units into Manuever Enhancement Brigades and we only have a handful that are in high demand so like everyone else in the Army, if they aren’t downrange they are either just getting back or getting ready to go, so a BCT gets the mission since they can recieve and intergrate those assetts like engineers or MPs not normally part of an MEB but are available for homeland defense. We also have more BCTs so they are the right choice for this.
    As for this seven days “stuff” I and my fellow officers know what our oath of office says, we know our loyalty lies with the constitution not a political party. We also know an illegal order when we see it and my velcro name tape says US Army, not Panamanian Army circa 1989. If you haven’t read about how the oath of office for the military has evolved, you should, it’s pretty fascinating.
    As for timing, we’re getting surge brigades back and reset from Iraq so the units are on hand to do this, not because the Prez might decide to stay on past 19 Jan.
    Bottom is this folks, the Military has some amazing capabilities that no one else has that will be in high demand during a national disaster. This is the best way to legally make sure it is ready to deliver when it’s needed. Also nation building in Iraq is completely different beast from Homeland Security here in America.
    So from someone who’s been there and done that I hope I’ve put the “black helicopter” fears to rest. To paraphrase Freud; Sometimes a US Army BCT with a Homeland Defense Mission is just an Army BCT with a Homeland Defense Mission folks.

  25. Curious says:

    You are afraid of American soldiers? pl
    Posted by: Patrick Lang | 08 October 2008 at 01:33 PM

    standard CIA manual Colonel. notice what is at stake, the very soul of the armed force. (The people, the armed force, the nation.)
    Suppose there is a riot or large urban commotion. Everybody knows it will be tense, but nobody expect clash. But somewhere somebody, with a gun trigger a clash.
    (eg. this is basic CIA operation in toppling government around the world. Pitting the armed force vs. the people)
    When there is solid legal boundary, that will not happen ever. Armed force doesn’t need to be in situation where it has to clash with citizens. EVER.
    I for one think there should be separate structure that can quickly be filled with armed force expertise in the event of domestic national emergency.
    But the armed force itself should never operate using same uniform for domestic purposes.
    This is also the basic idea why UN peace keeping force has those white/sky blue color.
    In time of emergency, usually legal and political situation is all a blur. The credibility and public trust of armed force should never be put in line. Things can go very wrong quickly. Who knows what the idiot in charge will ask military to do.

  26. Andy says:

    It’s frankly quite sad that this post had to be written in the first place. Who do these these concerned people think inhabit our military?
    Col. Lang,
    The NORTHCOM commander is dual-hatted as NORAD commander, so it’s unlikely an Army officer will ever have the position, much less a Guard officer. There are, however, federalized Guard officers in command of subordinate NORTHCOM units – most notably Joint Task Force Civil Support (JTF-CS) which is the JTF that would actually command the CCMRF’s in any incident.

  27. Another 11B says:

    I’m unconcerned about NORTHCOM; I’m concerned to have read in the Army Times that the brigade on duty in the U.S. is being trained with nonlethal weapons and learning to suppress unruly crowds. I’m not “afraid of American soldiers,” but am afraid of the uses they may be put to by their political leadership. MacArthur ordered his infantry to fix bayonets when they cleared the Bonus Army out of their camp in D.C. — one person’s dangerous mob is another person’s “group of citizens exercising their legal right to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.” In the era of “free speech zones,” this is not paranoia.

  28. Blue Girl says:

    Thank you COLONEL Lang. I have spent the last week or so telling people to calm down, there are not going to be tanks in the streets come 01 November. Now that I have you backing me up, maybe they will believe me.
    Ormolov wrote: “If that order did come down, could you tell us where the Pentagon stands, in terms of keeping this Administration afloat?”
    The military is comprised of average Americans from every walk of life. I figure that maybe 25% would be willing to go along, since that is the rough percentage of the general population that has the authoritarian mindset, but 75% would not b supplicant. I certainly would not follow that order unquestioningly, I would ask “Why, sir?” and without a damned good answer that put the “illegal order” suspicion to rest, I would arrest the person issuing it. As would my husband and practically every officer I have ever had the privilege of knowing in a life that has been steeped in the military since the day I was born in a Navy hospital.
    I have been out of the loop for a few years now, and living a quiet retired life in the midwest, but I have a theory about Doug Lute (remember him?) and the “war czar” billet that was created a while back. I don’t think he is there to manage the wars. I think he is in that position to take into custody the person who attempts to issue that order.
    I may not like Bob Gates, but it is personal and ideological, not professional. I respect him in a way I reserve for the truly deserving. He is the sort of operator who, in the game of life will let his opponent crow about getting to the king row for a few seconds before saying “checkmate.”

  29. Patrick Lang says:

    You have seen too many movies. The CIA is not a kind of secret government that rules America. Northcom has nothing to do with CIA.
    By your lights Americans are gullible and everyone knows that Australians are beer soaked oafs on surf boards. Enough with the hostile fantasies. If you persist with the nationalist nonsense, you will be banned.
    You may be right about the service identity of the COCOM although I think that the non-air mission may be more important,

  30. Damn, did I miss another conspiracy theory!!??
    Seriously, when I read this post yesterday my first thought was how dry and kind of boring the topic is. Who is going to comment on this stuff? What is there to say?
    Then after reading some comments I have to wonder what in the world prompted this? I always miss out on all the fun!

  31. Alex says:

    Towards the end of the Nixon administration, James Schlesinger apparently issued orders to the effect that the military should only treat a directive from the President as valid if countersigned by him as secretary of defense; in case Dick ran off his nut.

  32. Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA says:

    With repsect to restoring order post-disaster, let me paraphrase Jefferson, “Given a choice between Blackwater mercs without a BCT or a BCT without Blackwater mercs, I would unhesitatingly choose the latter.”
    For Watcher: very reassuring to hear an active duty Army officer voice respect for the Constitution. I hope you’ll hold that view the rest of your life. Thanks for remembering the oath that COL Lang, you, and I have all taken – though mine mentioned Air Force, not Army. Maybe I’m overly sensitive since the bad guy in Seven Days in May was in fact an Air Force officer.

  33. jonst says:

    I don’t have to be, nor am I, afraid of the stationing of these troops to be distrustful and suspicious of ‘standing armies’ playing an increased role in civilian life. The mistrust and suspicion is– almost–hardwired into these Anglo-Saxon genes I believe. And with sound reason, from a historical perspective, I would suggest.

  34. Harper says:

    Col. Lang, Thank you for provoking an important and fascinating discussion on a very important issue. I appreciate your assessment, of how this process has unfolded since 911. Very critical insight from someone with the kind of experience inside the military planning process that is invaluable at a moment like this. I share the view of many of the other comments that the worry is not with the military. The worry is that this White House, in its final weeks and months in power, could do something completely wild. We see that the Administration has been caught flat-footed by the financial crisis, and we know that there is a very big and growing disconnect between the actions being taken in Washington, and the mood around the country. The fact that people do not have confidence in the Bush-Cheney White House and their doctrine of unitary executive, etc. is not surprising. It seems to me that this is the real concern, not some Seven Days in May military plot for dictatorship.

  35. SAC Brat says:

    This reminds me of concerns by the left during the 1980’s that Reagan’s administration would use FEMA to round up and hold opponents in internment camps. Possible, but not probable.

  36. charlottemom says:

    I think more and more that this is about stabilization during upcoming severe economic events. I also wonder if other countries or entities (EU) are pursuing similar measures.
    There is “unrest” and protesting in Hong Kong, Tailand, etc. Now I read that Iceland is bankrupT(Russia loaning them money. What will Russia get in return?) Talk of Euro collapsing?! Around the world there is plenty of financial panic, insolvent banks, closed stock exchanges,etc.
    As these dramatic events are occuring, we learn that a homeland military entity is being created. In this light I think the timing says a lot – a plan to keep order during financial upheavel, no?).
    I am NOT suggesting that American soldiers will harm US citizens or forstall the election or any of that. I am, however, fearful that the US economic stability may be more fragile than we know. And am concerned more about the conditions under which this unit might be called up; not with the soldiers themselves.
    Disclosure: I’m the daughter of a career Army officer who was based in Latin American in the 70s and 80s.

  37. If the Taser Battalion shows up in my neighborhood, my friends and I will be making necklaces festooned with their ears. Just a fact, sir.

  38. J says:

    The money, time, and manpower being spent (wasted) on NORTHCOM, could be better spent in other more needy ways within DoD. NORAD should be kept, IMO NORTHCOM is nothing more than a boonedoggle with a capital B. Wheither DoD likes it or not, the civilian citizenry are becoming increasingly jittery regarding NORTHCOM and its ‘partnership’ with DHS.
    Every state in the union has National Guard, that were created for ‘domestic’ uses, not designed for overseas usages/deployments. ‘If’ our civilian leadership used their brains instead of trying to play basketball with them, they would see the writing on the wall — keep National Guard ‘at home’ to tend to ‘Homeland issues’, not misused in foreign AORs. ‘If’ the civilian leadership ‘did’ in such a way, then NORTHCOM could be relegated to the rightful place where it belongs — file 13.
    NORAD was created for continental air defense. It should still remain as there is a continuing need. But like I said, NORTHCOM needs to relegated to — file 13.
    DHS does not need a military arm (which is how DHS looks upon NORTHCOM as — ‘their’ military arm).

  39. Wills says:

    We must remember that the central strategy of the Bush Administration has been to arrogate power by pushing the envelope on “reasonable use” of existing powers. To not view with alarm the mobilization of another instrument of government in the service of preventing some “calamity” is naive.
    Remember, the entire Cheney-Addington Project has been to reinterpret the customary and statutory architecture of government to allow for unitary action by the executive, unfettered by oversight or control. It always begins with a subtle or even on the face of it absurd, procedural or linguistic gamut. They have spent a very long time studying and re-imagining the US government, and nothing they do is innocent.
    How naive were we when we parsed the phrase “War on Terror” as a silly slogan? How can you declare war on a tactic? But as we were to find out, this ridiculous phrase was a founding statement from which flowed their suspension of habeas corpus, war powers for the President, illegal surveillance programs,…. the list goes on and on.
    There is a clear pattern here – Cheney redefines the office of the Vice President – ridiculous of course, but he acts according to this new definition and does what damage he will, knowing full well, he will be long gone by the time that particular genie has been put back in the box. Our focus should not be on whether it is plausible that martial law will be invoked, and whether it is reasonable or paranoid to think so. The first gambit is always “reasonable” – it is what follows once the frame has been changed that must be guarded against. These men are capable of moving very large levers for small personal advantage – call it the banality of corruption. While we are busy explaining the reasonability of our institutions vis a vis one another, Cheney and Co. have co-opted another lever and are prying away yet again. Do we really have the leisure to explain away yet another troubling re-org? And once again, where is the calamity? Where is the dire threat? When will these powers be given up, these newly imagined lines of power severed?

  40. Patrick Lang says:

    This is not “another instrument of government.” that iis my point. I doubt very much that the Bush WH had anything to do with the creation of Northcom. pl

  41. Burgette Mobley says:

    Your paranoia is showing.
    The fact that I’m paranoid doesn’t mean that someone isn’t out to “get” me.

  42. euclidcreek says:

    “You are afraid of American soldiers?” Well, I do remember the Ohio National Guard at Kent State, May 4, 1970. Never to be forgotten.

  43. Patrick Lang says:

    “AMY GOODMAN: Boatner, in the Republican Convention, these troops, just back from Fallujah—what about issues of, for example, PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.
    COL. MICHAEL BOATNER: Well, my sense is that that’s something that the services handled very well. There’s a long track record of great support in the homeland. If those soldiers were National Guard soldiers, I have no visibility of that. But for the active-duty forces, citizens can be confident that if they’re employed in the homeland, that they’ll be reliable, accountable, and take care of their families and fellow citizens in good form.”
    My first impression is that she believes these soldiers are unsteady/unreliable in a tense situation.”
    IMO Amy has it backward. Combat veterans are much more reliable than green troops.
    This PTSD business has gotten completely out of hand. MOST COMBAT VETERANS ARE NOT PTSD CASUALTIES!!!!
    Someone mentioned the Ohio National guard at Kent State.
    The Guard in those days was filled with draft dodgers, like Bush. pl

  44. Curious says:

    You have seen too many movies. The CIA is not a kind of secret government that rules America. Northcom has nothing to do with CIA.
    Posted by: Patrick Lang | 09 October 2008 at 01:03 AM

    I meant. what CIA did to other country, will be done by other country in the US.

  45. Andy says:

    This conspiracy theorizing is getting ridiculous. I had begun a long comment about how off-base these theories and fears are but thought better of it – if Col. Lang can’t convince you then I doubt anyone will.
    All I will say is that for any of these theories to have any substance, the US military as an institution would have to be agreeable to dispensing with the Constitution and facing off against the rest of the citizenry (a situation which would be, in fact, a coup). 1BCT-3ID is not a Praetorian guard, nor is any other unit. The implication the military would conduct itself in the manner implied by some here would be deeply offensive were it not so completely looney. What some here don’t get is that President Bush’s intentions (or whatever some believe his intentions to be) are immaterial on this point.

  46. greg0 says:

    I remember a friend in the Army helping guard DC during riots in ’68 or ’69. He said nothing happened. The rioters weren’t interested in government buildings.
    An article by Naomi Wolf got my attention yesterday. She writes that martial law was threatened if the House bailout bill failed (Rep Brad Sherman-CA). That the deployment of First Brigade lends weight to the threat.
    While 2,000 to 3,000 soldiers can protect DC from rioters, I doubt they will be able to effectively enforce any extralegal schemes the VP has dreamed up for this administration.

  47. jamzo says:

    pl, despite your reassuring words, i am a little anxious about this assignment of an active combat brigade
    9/11 revealed that despite the support and monies that the citizens provide the army, navy, airforce and marines there was a puny at best plan for dealing with terrorists attacking the country
    i know that 1932 was a simpler time, but atty general mitchell for president hoover, did not require a planning headquarter to be able to send general mcarthur, the 12th infantry regiment, and major patton and the tanks of the 3rd calvary regiment to disperse 43,000 veterans
    the government was unable to respond appropriately to the attack on 9/11
    the fact that this was so is scary
    i do not want a pearl harbor commission redo but i do not find the idea “oh we did not have an interservice headquarters tasked to plan for responding to something like 9/11” very reassuring
    it sure has taken a long time for this headquarters in business
    william cummings remarks about the secrecy surrounding this headquarters furthers my concern
    the bushies failed the country on 9/11, politicized just about every function of the federal government, blamed the military and intelligence services for their policy failures, and hamstrung congressional leaders with inappropriate secrecy proceedings, go to elaborate lengths to operate prisons and torture people beyond the oversight of the congress and the courts
    i think our concerns are realistic rather than paranoid and you may be reading the bureaucratic machinations very well
    i still have concern as to whether the military has appropriate plans to defend the country and to help in disasters and i have concerns about illegal and unnecessary plans that may have been put in place by the “paranoid” bush administration in the name of counter-terrorism and theories of presidential power
    boy, the times we live in seem as dramatic as any period of national history that i have studied

  48. Kevin says:

    Texas passed a law that forbids military and law enforcement to confiscate privately owned weapons in a time of emergency. Just wait till they start violating state sovereignty. Imagine all them East Texas boys in their deer stands with scoped high power rifles; imagine them farm boys on the Texas plains cooking up fertilizer stuff. Don’t forget that 1 in 8 of every soldier on active duty is from Texas; Texas also has the largest guard and reserve force- I know where their primary loyalty is toward.

  49. Kevin says:

    “Now Canadians might be another matter. pl ”
    U.S. Northern Command, Canada Command establish new bilateral Civil Assistance Plan
    More Koolaid?

  50. Medicine Man says:

    I pray you’re joking about US troops being used against Canadians, Colonel. Our two countries have had differences in the past, but we’ve been partners in defense for decades.

  51. Patrick Lang says:

    Medecine Man
    I dunno. Canadia is a strange place. “Bomb, bomb, bomb Canadia!”. Wasn’t that whut McCain sang?
    My momma was a Canadian. When Jean Chretien was told that, his reaction was “Francaise?” Strange place.
    I might like a villa in occupied PEI. Pat

  52. J says:
    Senator Leahy Concerned about NORTHCOM’s New Army Unit

  53. Mark Kolmar says:

    It strikes me that Bush wants to do as little as possible, until it is time to leave town and turn the presidency over to his successor, ideally a Republican. The tin-foil hat question is what measures could be taken to adjust the result on the edges. I doubt whether power structure would want to upset appearances, or to be in charge of the crisis that would result from overt action, naked grab, much less the use of the military.
    This also assumes that they are competent enough to coordinate a takeover, or that they command loyalty that would not leave them stranded, loathed, and impotent after a failed attempt. Likely result would be a crisis of military and civilian leadership, after which the offenders would be held to account, most likely under the law.
    To the extent that U.S. insitutions have been politicized or hollowed, they are not in a bad enough state of decay to be able to break the system. Even if it were possible to generate a crisis large enough to upset the system, or allow such a crisis to fester, would leaders want to live with or rule over the result? In other words, if you could topple the U.S. government, what would be left that would be worth ruling?

  54. Christie says:

    Well, Watcher, if “the Military has some amazing capabilities that no one else has that will be in high demand during a national disaster,” how did we ever manage to deal with disasters before? And just what are these “amazing capabilities”?
    Perhaps we should think about the words of a professor quoted in Milton Mayer’s “They Thought They Were Free,” which deals with the rise of Nazism in Germany:
    “To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.”
    From the University of Chicago Press at

  55. TomB says:

    You responded to Christie’s post here in that other “Raid Into Syria Strike” thread as follows:
    “I don’t think one can reasonably connect the Reichswehr to the rise of fascism in Germany. If you can, tell us how.”
    As regards same then I haven’t seen Christie respond, and anyway indeed think you’re right that I don’t think one can make that “connection” in the way you mean, but it’s an interesting thing.
    I just finished Ian Kershaw’s recent big bio of Hitler and it’s pretty clear he endorses what I think is the pretty widely accepted conventional (historical) wisdom that after WWI one thing that greatly contributed to Hitler’s rise and popularity was the acceptance in Germany of the so-called “stab in the back” idea that the German military had been betrayed in that war by the then reigning politicians. (Which allegation, modern historiography further says, was just bogus as hell.)
    So anyway it’s pretty clear that after WWI the German military just loved this “stab in the back” absolution and so to the extent that it embraced and endorsed it is difficult to say that it was entirely neutral in at least contributing to the environment that nurtured and grew Hitler. Indeed that myth might even be said to have been the indispensable foundation for Hitler’s rise, although and again it doesn’t seem that the military was the prime advocate of the view. Maybe just co-conspirators.
    Moreover, of the two great names that emerged from WWI with honor in the eyes of the German people—Hindenburg and Ludendorff, who perhaps had the *only* names to have emerged with such “honor”—Ludendorf was a very big Hitler backer fairly early on and in some of the crucial years in Hitler’s career, and quite clearly lent him the prestige of his name. Plus of course the ranks of Hitler’s S.A. brownshirts had their share of military veterans and etc. And eventually after Hitler had come to power the german military did accede to pledging its allegiance to Hitler personally instead of to the state. (Although by that time it could hardly have resisted.)
    On the other hand Hindenburg essentially did everything he could originally to try to prevent Hitler from ascending to power, and there’s no doubt that represented a resistance to Hitler from much of the old Prussian backbone of the german army too.
    With that said I thought this Northcom business was pretty meaningless from the start and then with your experience explaining how these things happen I don’t think anyone should indeed be worrying. And I think that the occasional comment one sees here intimating that we’ve become a fascist state are just silly. But that quote from Mayer that Christie cited might still be a good one to remember as regards how things have happened elsewhere.
    “Not with a bang but a whimper, this is the way the world [will] end,” supposedly. And it’s not with a bang but a chip chip chipping away at its foundations that has often landed societies into trouble. You yourself have just recently and keenly noted what might be some slippage in that way with some of our generals pledging their loyalty not to the constitution but instead to “the President,” for instance,
    So at any rate I don’t see any big disharmony with that quote Christie cited at least and a sensible view otherwise.

Comments are closed.