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Linda_Owl's avatar

Do you think that Americans are being desensitized by our government & the Dept. of HomeLand Security to the presence of the military & military vehicles while they are doing practice 'drills' on our streets & in our cities?

Asked by Linda_Owl (7743points) June 29th, 2012

Recently the military went from a military base in Maryland to St. Louis in order to have their military personnel ‘practice’ driving around the streets in military vehicles. There are any number of large military bases that have residential streets on which this ‘practice’ could have taken place, so why are they ‘practicing’ in our cities? The responses on the part of the public have run the gamut from enthusiastic support to fears that the government & the military are trying to make an ‘end run’ around the restrictions represented by Posse Comitatus. After all it is almost a crime now to fail to flaunt your Patriotism, especially since the Patriot Act was passed. Considering the increasingly militarization of our local Law Enforcement agencies & their willingness to respond with brutality, & ‘shoot first & ask questions later’ – I am wondering if this is something about which I need to worry? Is this the next step in the ‘Papers, Please’ situation which the people of color in the United States are already having to deal with?

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35 Answers

woodcutter's avatar

If it was happening all over the country there may be cause for concern. By the way, We don’t have a flag on our property.

josie's avatar

I thought it was a pretty good question until the gratutitous last sentence.
But that aside, it is certainly something to think about. By the way, I have a flag on my patio.
Here’s the GQ anyway.

WestRiverrat's avatar

They are trying to pick locations that the troops involved don’t have a lot of familiarity. In any battalion, there is going to be a number of people familiar with the layout and locations of any large US base.

They did the same thing out in Rapid City for some national guard units from Ohio and points east. The SD guard that trained in state acted as the OPFOR while some units went to train somewhere else.

There are a lot of potential hot spots right now that are urban environments, our troops have a better chance of survival if they train in urban environments here before they are deployed.

woodcutter's avatar

They should send a division to Chicago’s south side and get some.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@woodcutter If the troops were given live ammo and permission to shoot back, I would agree with you.

dabbler's avatar

I think driving down the road is ok, Are they wearing full body armor and have weapons ready?
If they are in un-combat mode it’s fine. Soldiers are our fellow citizens, and we should see some of the hardware we’re paying for.
I don’t like the militarization of police forces with heavy machinery and armaments at their disposal – started with the ‘drug war’ as an excuse to up-armor the police.
Changes their disposition to think of their constituents as the enemy, just sayin’.

bookish1's avatar

Well, I don’t think I’ve been desensitized.
I was very disturbed to see 3 French Army soldiers trooping through the gay quarter tonight, with both hands on their automatic machine guns slung around their necks. Apparently this is normal here O_O Talk about desensitized!

ragingloli's avatar

@bookish1 Nah, french bullets only fly backwards, no worries.
You do not happen to think that the last decade (and counting) of war the colonies are in are not desensitising?

woodcutter's avatar

@WestRiverrat That’s what “get some” means. Not worth a single GI’s life putting them there with blank adapters.

funkdaddy's avatar

I don’t know if it desensitizes your average citizen, but I think it desensitizes the soldiers and law enforcement after a while.

I had a traffic stop recently, current police policy requires officers to call for backup on any stop. So within a minute or so I had 4 armed officers huddled around my car watching me while another wrote me a ticket for expired inspection. My wife was in the passenger seat.

He said I seemed nervous, I asked if he’d be ok if I called some armed friends to come stare at him and his wife. I thought I did it politely. He decided it was a good time to give me a lecture about how he was there to keep people safe. Like I was a naughty child he needed to explain how the world works to.

I don’t hate the police and I’m not there to piss anyone off or cause trouble. I don’t generally think police officers are bad people. I just don’t think they realize the gun on their hip is no different than me carrying around a machete, which would undoubtedly make them nervous and make me a target.

I think they honestly don’t see the parallel any more. Meanwhile the box cutter and rope I have in the car makes me a threat.

Maybe the cruise through real streets reminds soldiers what they’re protecting. If it’s presented in that way then I think it’s worthwhile.

Earthgirl's avatar

I don’t know how much people realize that 9/11 and the concomitant “Homeland Security” has changed the face of New York City. Here is an example of what I see sometimes in my morning commute. Yes, soldiers with assault rifles in camouflage. I have to be honest and say that I have mixed feelings about it. They have bomb sniffing dogs, they are not overbearing but a quiet presence…does it make me feel safe? Not really. But I suppose the first time they avert disaster we will be infinitely grateful…in the meantime though, they make me aware that we are living in a changed world.

Today, on my morning commute, I saw a little girl about 4 years old with her dad, dressed like a little Pippi Longstocking in dress with matching pantaloons, chattering away and so happily skipping along with her dad in tow,and she passed right by two big soldiers dressed in camo with assault rifles, she didn’t blink. So now, this is our world. Where do we go from here?

Linda_Owl's avatar

That is a very good question, @Earthgirl , where do we go from here? I’m afraid that the military has too much power & too high of an opinion of itself despite the fact that we are still embroiled in the war in Afghanistan, & we may go to war with Iran. Military personnel are committing suicide at an alarming rate once they realize that their government has been lying to them because they are not fighting for our freedom, they are expanding a colonial empire in order so that the big corporations can have access to the natural resources that belong to other countries. We have the largest military force in the entire world & the military gets most of the tax money that our government collects, while our infrastructure falls apart & our health care is under funded. We also have the largest number of people locked up in our prisons & now we have For Profit Prisons that sell the labor of the inmates to the corporations that will pay them the most money. And the middle class is almost gone & the war on women is being fought by government & Congress.

bkcunningham's avatar

Can you provide a link to something that I can read about this, @Linda_Owl?

ETpro's avatar

@Linda_Owl Are you sure this was active duty Army or Marines and not National Guard? In today’s world of terrorism, a Mumbai style attack coordinated with hundreds or even thousands of domestically grown terrorists would require the National Guard to roll in combat and not emergency response mode. The Posse Comitatus Act should make deploying the actual Army on the streets of the US verboten without an act of Congress or actual foreign invasion to repel. There are a fair number of Oath Keepers members in our military at all levels, and even officers who aren’t members of that organization take very seriously their oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. I don’t think either the military or the many armed citizens of this nation would acquiesce with a dictatorial power grab by someone gone rouge in office.

lillycoyote's avatar

I haven’t seen anything like this happening. If it were widespread, as @woodcutter mentioned, perhaps it would be something to worry about. 1968 and the occupation of Wilmington, DE, my home town, was probably as bad as I’ve ever seen things around here and I was only 11 so I really didn’t entirely get it… but still. America is relatively young country but it does have a some history.

And, as @bkcunningham asked, do you have any links to this kind of thing happening a lot of places? If not, “they are doing practice ‘drills’ on our streets & in our cities,” “they” are just individual units doing a drill or some drills.

flutherother's avatar

Not as desensitized as the Afghans are by the presence of our government and military.

Linda_Owl's avatar

Well, this link says they were regular Army, not National Guard

Linda_Owl's avatar

And this link, too (although I must admit that it is put in much more ‘sensationalized’ terms than the previous link – but still the information is available on the internet to back it up)

Linda_Owl's avatar

I realize that my concern about this puts me in the ‘conspiracy theorist’ category – but when it comes to losing one’s Constitutional Rights, it is cause for serious consideration. Not all ‘conspiracy’ theories are fabrications, some are based upon reality. Granted, most conspiracies originate in the minds of men with money & power, who want even more money & power….. and right now our government & the big corporations seem to have these individuals in abundant supply – it is what got the United States into the current situation we are in.

dabbler's avatar

@Earthgirl That’s exactly what I mean. The militarization of the police force does not comfort me much. Their heavy-handed approach to Occupy solidified opinion in a lot of people’s minds that the police have lost touch with being part of the community. They have much more of a ‘them’ ‘us’ approach than they used to.

Genuine military personnel stationed at an airport on standby is one thing.
But police in full body armor carrying M16s on the subway is over the top.

bkcunningham's avatar

The video from News Center 5 in St. Charles County explained it, @Linda_Owl. The troops from Maryland were brought in to train the US MP Reserve unit to drive the military vehicles on public streets.

The military equipment they are driving wasn’t brought from Maryland. It was already sitting there in St. Louis at the Reserve base. The troops are training the MPs at the Reserve Unit in properly driving the equipment on city streets.

I don’t see that it is a big deal. If you want to go with the conspiracy theory, perhaps Obama did it as a precautionary measure in case people rioted if the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare didn’t turn out as they hoped.

Linda_Owl's avatar

All of you who have responded to my question might want to read this link, too.

It says that the military is going to use the Army to enforce domestic law.

ragingloli's avatar

Sorry, but that site is not trustworthy.
It outright lies when it falsely quotes ”“Where appropriate we will also dedicate active-duty forces, especially those with niche skills and equipment, to provide civilian officials with a robust set of reliable and rapid response options.” from the referenced article.
The article does not contain that quote.
(at least not the version that is free to access)

Linda_Owl's avatar

I am sorry @ragingloli , but the quote you stated as not being in the article is in the 3rd paragraph of the article. The article is free to access & it CLEARLY contains the quote that you said it does not contain. Possibly you may have a problem with your Browser? The article is free to access & the quote is there in the article in the 3rd paragraph.

ragingloli's avatar

This is the entire article that I am able to access:
“After six months as chief of staff, I can see clearly that the coming decade will be a vital period of transition for the U.S. Army. The service will have to adjust to three major changes: declining budgets, due to the country’s worsened fiscal situation; a shift in emphasis to the Asia-Pacific region; and a broadening of focus from counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and training of partners to shaping the strategic environment, preventing the outbreak of dangerous regional conflicts, and improving the army’s readiness to respond in force to a range of complex contingencies worldwide.


To ensure that declining budgets do not lead to shortfalls in training and equipment, the size of the active-duty force will have to be reduced. The reductions will be painful, but they are necessary and can be done responsibly. We must do our utmost to ensure that the soldiers leaving the force are treated fairly and that they and their families are provided with support to help them successfully transition to civilian life. We must also cut units as we cut soldiers, to prevent units from becoming undermanned and ineffective.

Although maintaining a smaller active-duty army will involve some risks, those risks will be less than some believe because of the changes that have taken place in the army in recent years. Today’s force is qualitatively different from the army of a decade ago. It is more combat seasoned, more tightly integrated with the other military services and with special operations forces, and more technologically advanced.

Today’s army also has an unprecedented level of integration between its active and its reserve components. The Army National Guard and the Army Reserve have stood shoulder to shoulder with active-duty troops around the globe, and the level of trust, respect, and mutual understanding between them is unparalleled in the army’s history. Our reserve component soldiers are better than they have ever been, and we will dedicate resources to ensure that some of them will be either deployed or ready to deploy around the globe.”

Followed by

“This is a premium article
You must be a logged in Foreign Affairs subscriber to continue reading. If you wish to continue reading this article please subscribe , or activate your online account to get full online access.”

Needless to say, the CFR article does not in any way imply the things that the alex jones article claims it does.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I have no idea why I can read the article in its entirety, but you cannot @ragingloli . The article does contain the statement made by the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, General Raymond T. Odierno…... “Where appropriate we will also dedicate active-duty forces, especially those with niche skills and equipment, to provide civilian officials with a robust set of reliable and rapid response options.” Odierno goes on to suggest that the Army be “transitioned” into a more “flexible force” by deploying in situations normally reserved for domestic Law Enforcement officials. He says that due to the US worsened fiscal situation, that the Army should broaden its focus from counterinsurgency to preventing the outbreak of dangerous regional conflicts.

Linda_Owl's avatar

The article to which you are referring (*your link) does not give the full statement made by the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, General Raymond T. Odierno.

ragingloli's avatar

That article IS the one the prisonplanet article links to as its source in the second paragraph.

Linda_Owl's avatar

@ragingloli – yes this is the article that the prisonplanet article links to – but this article does NOT give the FULL STATEMENT made by the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, General Raymond T. Odierno. You have to consider that a foreign affairs article is not going to give you anything beyond the bare-bones about anything the military Chief of Staff has to say.

ETpro's avatar

@Linda_Owl There’s certainly no violation of the Posse Comitatus Act if this was just a training exercise. We can’t very well send our Army to foreign cities to train. Sounds pretty harmless to me.

ragingloli's avatar

I do not think you understand the point I am trying to get at.
– Prisonplanet claims the general made that statement in the CFR article
– The CFR article does not contain that statement.
– Therefore it can not be verified if the general made that statement at all.
– Therefore it can not be verified if Prisonplanet was honest and truthful.

Prisonplanet claims the general made that statement, but does not back up that claim.

woodcutter's avatar

If they don’t practice and familiarize themselves with the country, how much hope will they have to stop people like me when SHTF?

ragingloli's avatar

Nukes and carpet bombing.
Or carpet nuking.

woodcutter's avatar

if we’re lucky

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