"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