New Defense Authorization Act Militarizes Law Enforcement. Bad Idea?

Family Security Matters

The new defense authorization act all but erases decades of  U.S. government compliance with the letter and the spirit of the Posse  Comitatus Act 1878, a law that prohibits the use of the U.S. military  to perform law enforcement functions within the United   States, according to  police officials and others opposed to the militarizing of American  law enforcement.

Provisions in the new authorization act allow military reservists  — Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines — to be called to duty and  deployed in the event of a natural disaster or  other emergency within the homeland, as well as mobilization of  reserve units to support counterterrorism and security  missions overseas, according to the American Forces Press Service’s  Donna Miles.

“Except for a crisis involving a weapon of mass destruction, the reserves  historically have been prohibited from providing a homeland disaster response,”  Army Lt. General Jack C. Stultz, the Army Reserve chief, told reporters on  Friday.

Originally, such deployments were the duty of National Guard,  which are under the control of state governors who would  call in guardsman as needed to support civil police forces, fire  departments and other emergency personnel.

However, when Hurricane Katrina fiercely struck the Gulf Coast in  2005, especially the city of New Orleans, active-duty service members became  “the federal default force,” according to Miles.

But the reason for that deployment was the inability of Louisiana’s governor  and New Orleans’ mayor to command and control the police and emergency  responders. Now the U.S. Congress and the Obama Administration have acquired the  authority to use military resources in such emergencies, including deploying  soldiers during an insurrection.

“Is anyone surprised at this latest disregard for the constitution and  tradition? The military forces in the U.S., Canada and Mexico have been training  in urban warfare and response to terrorist threats such as weapons of mass  destruction (WMD) scenarios,” said police lieutenant Walter Ingram of the  Morningside, N.Y., police department.

Ingram also noted that “the Bush Administration and congress toyed  with the idea of practically militarizing FEMA (Federal Emergency Management  Administration). which is basically a ‘bean-counting’ agency. But that idea  went nowhere.”

But General Stultz is gung-ho about the new authorization. “In a lot of  cases, there were reserve-component soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who  were close at hand with the capabilities needed, but didn’t have the authority  to act,” he said. “Finally, we got the law changed. This new legislation says  that now we can use Title 10 reserves.”

For these forces to be used, the law specifies that the Commander in  Chief — President Barack Obama –must declare an emergency or disaster and a  state governor must request the assistance.

Stultz clarified what hasn’t changed under the law. Civil authorities will  remain the first responders. And when they need military support, National Guard  forces will be the first to step in when called by their state governor. “We are  not trying to change any of that,” the general said.

But now, when a situation also demands a federal response, reserve forces can  step in to assist for up to 120 days, added Miles.

But political strategist Mike Baker is confused about the lack of news  coverage and lack of controversy over the prospect of giving the U.S.  warfighters so much leeway to operation within U.S. borders. “Imagine if  President [George W.] Bush announced this increased use of military resources  stateside. Does anyone doubt the media frenzy as well a the vitriol that  would emanate from Democrats in both houses of the U.S. Congress?” Baker asked  rhetorically.

Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., commander of U.S. Northern Command, and his  staff are evaluating their federal response plan to take advantage of these new  capabilities, Stultz said.

Stultz participated in a recent U.S. Army North exercise that helped to test  the concept. The scenario involved two hurricanes hitting the United States  almost simultaneously, requiring a federal response, according to Miles’ AFPS  report.

The exercise helped participants work through the procedures that would be  involved in calling Title 10 forces to duty, Stultz explained. “How does the  governor and the adjutant general within a state go through the process of  asking for federal help?” he said. “How do Army North and Northcom identify what  capabilities are close by that they can use? How do we go through alerting these  forces to go down and help this natural disaster? And as always, who cuts the  order to put them on duty, and who provides the funding?”

Stultz said he’s gratified by almost universal support for the new  legislative authority.

“Everybody is on board, from the governors to the adjutants general to Army  North to Northcom saying this is going to be a good thing,” he said. “We just  have to make sure we have the procedures and processes worked out.”

And now, before the authority is actually needed, is the time to get that  resolved, he said. “Let’s not wait until a hurricane hits to say, ‘How do we do  it?’ he said.

Another change in the 2012 authorization act allows Title 10 reservists to be  called to duty to support unnamed overseas contingencies. The reserves, and  particularly the Army Reserve, have a long history of deploying members for  medical, engineering and other missions to support theater engagement and  security cooperation efforts.

Typically, they did so as their annual training, which generally limits their  engagements to 21 to 29 days, Stultz said. That could be particularly limiting  when the missions are in far-flung parts of the world, he said, sometimes  reducing time on the ground to as little as 14 days before the reservist had to  pack up and return home.

“With this new authority, now we can send them down for much longer periods  of time,” Stultz said.

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3 thoughts on “New Defense Authorization Act Militarizes Law Enforcement. Bad Idea?

  1. And all of the so-called good conservatives voted Yes on the NDAA along with the likes of Pelosi, Reid, Schumer, and the other progressives.

  2. Yeah, figured it would come to this. BUT- one thing remains, and that is even though they have the authority and orders, the Individuals performing these acts- that are not part of obummas cartel- can choose not to perform the operations. And there are lots of Patriots who are former Military, who have the up-to-date equipment and training, and who know and see what is happening. We need to organize now.

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