A recent war college magazine posting has people up in arms about the role of the military in domestic operations, and mentions the “Tea Party” as a bad actor in the scenario.
I was up on Twitter tonight when I got a tweet from Ann Barnhardt of Barnhardt.biz. Her tweet alleges that a US Army War College publication called Small Wars Journal posted an article describing a potential scenario in which the Tea Party takes over a small town somewhere in the US and forces the state Governor and the President to act, calling up the United States military into action to return law and order.
Here is Ann’s tweet, which may be a retweet from someone else.
Ann Barnhardt – http://barnhardt.biz/
Ann Barnhardt @AnnBarnhardt
Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A “Vision” of the Futurehttp://j.mp/QDaeTM
In the article dated 25 July of this year, the authors Kevin Benson, a retired Army Colonel and Jennifer Weber, a historian specializing in the American Civil War outline a potential scenario where Tea Party Patriots upset at the government’s lack of enforcement of immigration laws and departure from the Constitution take over a small town called Darlington. The Tea Party militia forms and starts check points or choke points where they stop an harass non-whites who appear to be legal or illegal aliens. The governor ran his election campaign giving tacit approval to the Tea Party and feels for political reasons he is unable to enforce the laws to stop the local militia using National Guard or local police forces. In addition, local police are co-opted by the militia and are of questionable use in stopping the militia in any case.
If you can get over the obvious offensiveness of the connection of the Tea Party to racism and right wing zealotry, I find that this scenario is startlingly accurate and well thought out. The publication, Small Wars Journal, seems to be an academic publication aimed at educating military leaders at the war college level, those officers attaining the higher ranks past lieutenant colonel. Students at our war college are bombarded with and discuss scenarios like this all the time as part of their training and are educated to think outside the box. Our military has it’s whole purpose in defending the homeland from enemies foreign and domestic and the leaders of our military have to be educated to foresee the possible scenarios. While I think it is more likely that a group of Occupy Wall Street militia would be of more danger than the Tea Party, or even a far right faction of the local Muslim Brotherhood here in the homeland, I’m not overly concerned that the authors chose to use the Tea Party as their example.
The authors make the argument that the Posse Comitatus act would not be infringed upon because of the powerlessness of the governor and the local city government because of the influence of the militia, and the proclamation of the President whose duty it is to restore order. The Posse Comitatus act for anyone’s curiosity is the act that prohibits the military from acting within the continental United States. At least that’s what everyone thinks. Actually, a quick check with Wikipedia confirms that the military can and will be used to exercise police powers to restore law and order within the limits of the Constitution.
Says Wikipedia – “The Posse Comitatus Act is the United States federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1385, original at 20 Stat. 152) that was passed on June 18, 1878, after the end of Reconstruction. Its intent (in concert with the Insurrection Act of 1807) was to limit the powers of local governments and law enforcement agencies in using federal military personnel to enforce the laws of the land. Contrary to popular belief, the Act does not prohibit members of the Army from exercising statelaw enforcement, police, or peace officer powers that maintain “law and order“; it simply requires that any authority to do so must exist with the United States Constitution or Act of Congress. In this way, most use of the Army and the Air Force at the direction of the President does not offend the statute, even though it may be problematic for political reasons.”
Oh, Ok. So the authors are right.
Case in point. I was in the National Guard here in Minnesota when I was activated to aid local law enforcement during the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis in 2008. Quick reaction forces were formed and trained, soldiers were posted at checkpoints in different areas of the Cities, tactical operations posts were manned and operated as communications hubs. All branches of the service were made available to help law enforcement, including the Coast Guard. From my vantage point at the St. Paul Airport where my soldiers and I manned a checkpoint I saw Coast Guard helicopters deploy from the airfield to intercept civilian air traffic that violated the city air space. (When high ranking politicians are in town for example, the government has the authority to declare a National Emergency for political purposes and enforce a no fly zone for a specific event like the RNC.)
I also saw quick reaction forces of the State Patrol deploy from my location to deal with anarchist groups downtown who were busy throwing human urine and feces at cops and breaking windows. I saw firsthand the kind of scenario the authors of this article are talking about. Forget for a moment that they were all Leftist, as rioters in these scenarios tend to be. From what I saw, the police forces of the Twin Cities reacted to the chaos with remarkable restraint and professionalism and the military served a proper behind the scenes role, as it should be. I didn’t see any tanks rolling down main street, though I did see that the crap throwing Occupy Zombies were cornered on a bridge by city officials driving a snow plow.
My brother was an officer in the National Guard at the time in Denver where the Democratic National Convention was taking place. He was asked to take command of a quick reaction force and we exchanged notes. From his standpoint, as confirmed in a briefing I attended with the Secret Service, the knuckleheads causing problems in Denver were the exact same goofballs that came up to Minneapolis. They were, you guessed it, Leftists!
Should people be concerned that the military can be used to quash civil unrest? I think that it is always a good idea for civil libertarians to be on guard on the over reach of their government. The constitution guarantees our rights, but it also provides us as citizens with responsibilities. We always forget that part. I would also like to state emphatically the majority of the US military does not view citizens of this country as the enemy by and large. There are always horrible examples of course, but those are few and far between, i.e. the Ruby Ridge Debacle and the Branch Dravidians tragedy in Waco Texas. We as conservatives and libertarians should always be on guard to push back against government over reach and remind our government of who they work for. After all, the government should fear the people, but the people should never fear the government.
I would also like to stress that we as conservatives and libertarians should refrain from being overly reactionary in our rhetoric. Talk of revolution in this very stressful time in our history is not helpful. While many of us are outraged at the direction of our country; the failure of the government to rein in the debt, their failure to enforce immigration laws already on the books, a move by big government progressives away from republican principles and towards a socialist nanny state, and the gutlessness of our politicians on the right to stand for their principles, all of these things are cause for concern. But we should however refrain from putting gasoline on the fire by talking about rebellion.
Think about our Civil War, how brutal and awful that was! Think to about the tragedy of Manifest Destiny and the removal of Native American tribes from the land! A new revolution on this continent would be a massive Air/Land campaign with tanks and airplanes that would fracture the states one from another. The military would be torn apart as young men and women of military age try to decide which side to join. The currency of the United States would be worthless as states succeed from the Union and form their own governments. Joblessness and tumult would cascade across the country. Things would be worse not better. I predict such a skirmish would be short but brutal, leading to the direct or indirect deaths of a third or more of our population.
If you want to avoid this nightmare scenario but want to affect change in a positive way to restoring the country to a Constitutional Republic, there is only one way: peaceful activism in the political process!
No the Tea Party is not the enemy and they are not racist, by and large. Yes, it was offensive for the authors of this article to imply. Am I concerned about this kind of rhetoric being transformed into a real life scenario, yes, but I am more concerned in the over reaction of many of my fellows. Don’t waste your breath and effort on minutiae. We can win in November and return sanity to our government.
So keep the faith!
I want to leave you with this comment by a military member who responded to this article posting and keep in mind that it was one of many. I think it accurately reflects the sentiment of many of our military members who defend our freedom every day.
by JC-Marine | August 4, 2012 – 8:06pm
As a retired Marine and as a retired cop, I find the authors’ fictional scenario quite disturbing and not well thought out.
What the heck happened to the Posse Comitatus Act?
Your scenario is clearly a law enforcement action. One that can and would be handled by state and local police — and the state’s National Guard if need be.
Roll federal tanks and APCs down main street, and you would have more than your fictional, evil Tea Party to contend with. You’d have everyone from high-school kids to retired folks running around shooting up your tanks and troops, while screaming: “Wolverines!“
OK. Here’s one more. Be reassured.
by Hawken | August 4, 2012 – 7:54am
Are you kidding me? the tea party, a movement dedicated to the US constitution and smaller responsible government, a movement who has zero arrests in their rallies (unlike the occupy movement), this is what the military is preparing for?
The question is not if the US military can defeat any foe, of course it can, the question is whether it should. The US military if an arm of the people and not those in power. The US military is made up of its citizens, paid for by its citizens, if an armed resistance to a over-reaching government ever arises the military will have to think carefully upon its actions and not blindly follow those in power.
With laws such as the patriot act, national defense authorization act, NSPD 51, et. al., our federal government is showing that power does corrupt.
Thank you Ann, for bringing this article to our attention.
God Bless America, the Constitutional Republic of the United States!
*The author was an Army National Guard Logistician with 19-years experience, including domestic mobilizations and one long tour in Iraq.