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ARMY BRIGADES TRAIN FOR HOMELAND RESPONSE MISSION

 

By By NWV News Director, Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
December 13, 2008
NewsWithViews.com

[NewsWithViews.com participated in a press conference (teleconference) held by officials from the US Department of Defense (Pentagon) on December 11.]

"The liberal-left would love to see federal troops cracking down on American citizens while allowing terrorists, illegal aliens and criminals to rule the streets of our cities and towns," accuses Baker.

The first active-duty unit dedicated to supporting US civilian authorities in the event of a nuclear, biological or chemical attack is wrapping up three days of intensive training in tactics to be used within the continental United States, according to Armed Forces Press Service representative Donna Miles.

Ms. Miles reported to news reporters, bloggers and Internet journalists that troops from the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team are at the Naval facility located in Indian Head, Maryland getting hands-on training in skills they would depend on to provide support during a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive incident, known here as a CBRNE.

The "Rock of the Marine" division, which returned to Fort Stewart, Ga., in early spring from its third deployment to Iraq, was designated Oct. 1 as part of the CBRNE Consequence Management Force. The force includes various military assets assigned to US Northern Command that could be called on to respond to a natural or manmade disaster.

However, not everyone is happy about this latest military development coming so close to the transition from the Bush White House to the Obama Administration. Some observers believe this plan is part of a deal between President-Elect Barack Obama and the current Secretary of Defense who will remain in his current position even after the Bush-Obama transition.

"While Obama and his team are making it sound as if they will use the military in a non-combative roll, part of the training being conducted is in urban warfare," claims political strategist Mike Baker.

"Obama appears oblivious to Posse Comitatus and to the US Constitution when it comes to using the military against civilians within US borders," he added.

The division will conduct the mission for a year, rotating its six divisions through escalating readiness levels, explained Army Col. Roger Cloutier, who commands the 1st Brigade "Raiders." After that, the mission will pass to other Army brigade combat teams, Pentagon officials told NewsWithViews.com

If first responders found themselves short of manpower or equipment in a disaster, they could tap into the team through US Northern Command and Joint Task Force Civil Support.

About 200 of Cloutier's soldiers came this week to learn the ropes in a realistic setting from the experts: the Marine Corps Chemical Biological Incident Response Force. The Marines stood up the unit in 1996 in response to a subway sarin gas attack in Tokyo. Today, it remains the only active-duty element that trains daily in CBRNE consequence management.

The training realism began before the soldiers ever reached the Indian Head facility. They received a no-notice alert at 4:30 a.m. Dec. 8 and deployed just over 24 hours later from Hunter Army Airfield with four aircraft, about 15 vehicles and other equipment and gear.

Exercises at The Marines' Raymond M. Downey Sr. Responder Training Facility gave the soldiers insight into the conditions and challenges they likely would face if called to help rescue victims and provide temporary life support during a disaster.

"This is as realistic as I imagine it can get," said Army Lt. Col. Joel Hamilton as two of his soldiers burst from a smoke-filled building carrying the mannequin they had searched through the dark to locate. "My soldiers are being stressed with some very realistic scenarios."

Hamilton, who commands the 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery, looked on as the soldiers navigated under and through "collapsed" structures and walls and felt their way through dark, smoke-filled buildings and confined spaces to search for survivors.

Working in buddy teams, they inched through spaces as tight as two feet by two feet, wearing blacked-out gas masks that offered zero visibility. They yelled directions to the man behind them, their voices rising over rap music the Marines had cranked up to further confuse the situation.

As the soldiers moved, each maintained at least three points of contact on the floors and walls at all times to keep from getting disoriented. "This is all by feel and communication," Hamilton said.


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At another station, the soldiers practiced the techniques to lift seemingly unmovable 17,000-pound concrete beams to reach people trapped beneath. Meanwhile, other soldiers tried their hand at using the "jaws of life" and other equipment to free passengers "trapped" in their vehicles.

The Marines focused on their own safety throughout the training, emphasizing how quickly first responders can become victims themselves. "We don't want to be the rescuers who need rescuing," said Staff Sgt. Ray Johnstone, an M109 Palladin crew chief.

"It's all about teamwork," he said. "Teamwork is what gets the job done safely and effectively. And it's what we're doing here."

While military experts are excited about this use of soldiers within the borders of the United States, many police commanders and officers are less enthusiastic.

"I cannot understand why the federal government is so intent on using such military force within our borders. It reminds me of the Branch Davidian massacre in Waco, Texas when the feds used excessive deadly force against men, women and children. And they used that deadly physical force based on false information," warns former NYPD detective and US Marine Sid Francis.

"While I've served in the military and continue as a reservist, as a [New Jersey] cop I'm troubled about the use of federal troops coming into our communities during any emergencies," said Detective Lieutenant Stephan Rodgers

The Pentagon credited teamwork the brigade built during 15 months in Iraq's Anbar province with giving its soldiers a leg up on their new mission. Junior leaders developed critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, and soldiers learned how to interact with other coalition forces as well as Iraqi military and local government leaders.

And just as they understood in Iraq that they were supporting Iraqi army and police forces, they understand that if called to respond to a CBRNE incident, they'll support state and local authorities, Cloutier said.

"We understand our role, and the fact that we are not in charge," he said. "We are here to help and to find out, 'What do you need?'

The biggest strength his unit would bring to the mission, Cloutier said, is "4,000 soldiers with a can-do attitude who are here to help."

"I'm pretty excited that we have the utilities to go out and help people," he said. "This is more of the stuff I joined the Army for."

With 10 years in the Army, and a long string of deployments under his belt -- to Kosovo, Afghanistan and three to Iraq -- Johnstone called the CBRNE mission a welcome opportunity to serve his own countrymen.

"We're ecstatic about it," he said of the mission. "This is something new and different. It's about actively saving lives," he said. "Hopefully we never have to get the call to do it. But if we get that call, we are ready."

"No one questions the patriotism of these soldiers. I believe using them is merely a temporary tactic by a President Obama. His true goal is the creation of a 'security force' that is directly under his control and easily deployed within the United States," warns Baker.

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"During the Katrina hurricane and flood in New Orleans, the left-wing journalists painted a picture of corrupt and cowardly local police while calling for more federal law enforcement and agency response," he said.

"The liberal-left would love to see federal troops cracking down on American citizens while allowing terrorists, illegal aliens and criminals to rule the streets of our cities and towns," accuses Baker.

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I cannot understand why the federal government is so intent on using such military force within our borders. It reminds me of the Branch Davidian massacre in Waco, Texas when the feds used excessive deadly force against men, women and children.