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Thread: Military Reviews Placing Special Ops on U.S. Soil

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Military Reviews Placing Special Ops on U.S. Soil

    21 June Washington Examiner - Military Reviews Placing Special Ops on U.S. Soil by Rowen Scarbourgh.

    The U.S. military command in charge of protecting the homeland asked the Pentagon earlier this year for a contingent of special operations officers to help with domestic anti-terrorism missions.

    Military sources told The Examiner that U.S. Northern Command, established at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado in 2002, requested its own special operations command similar to ones assigned to overseas war-fighting commands, such as U.S. Central Command.

    A spokeswoman for NorthCom this week issued a statement to The Examiner saying, "This capability resides in every other geographical combatant command and would allow the commander of U.S. Northern Command to deploy these unique capabilities for homeland defense and civil support operations."

    The request was approved six months ago by the then-commander of NorthCom, Adm. Timothy Keating, who has since moved to U.S. Pacific Command.

    But now, the new NorthCom commander, Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, is reviewing Keating's decision...

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default Slippery Slope

    There are reasons why military forces are restricted from internal operations. We should leave it that way. There are also means by which miltary forces can be utilized inside the US and the Constitution is explicit in this. I for one would not want to be part of a military operation inside the US without the localized declaration of Martial Law as a protection for the servicemembers conducting that operation. Col Jones, SgtMaj Johnson and and Cpl Jackson don't need to be sued in civil court or threatened with criminal prosecution for conducting an authorized action within the borders.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Slippery slope or jumping off a precipice...

    Totally agree Troufion, that is a bad move and hopefully the review will trash the idea.

    Sheesh. Every time I think we've done the dumbest thing in the world, somebody comes up with a new one...

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    Default is it really that dumb?

    My knee jerk reaction is this is too stupid to do, but I think for select operations it could make sense. Much like UK's SAS operations within UK for select CT missions, we could employ our unique direct action capabilities within the U.S. effectively, although it would probably require deputizing the force temporarily. My concern, and slapout can address it best, is that our law enforcement organizations are getting distracted by homeland defense focused on "potential" terrorist attacks, which is allowing the gangs to regain lost ground. What is the greatest threat to our citizens, Abu dumbass with a suicide vest in the mall or resurgent Bloods, Crips, Aryan Nation, and other gangs? The gangs are killing our people today, and we don't seem to have enough beat cops out their securing our population, nor does the FBI have enough resources to track both gangs and terrorist suspects. This plays out further, in that the gangs (especially evolved gangs) can provide safe haven for potential terrorists, since they are business men and will provide a service for a price potentially.

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    Council Member sgmgrumpy's Avatar
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    Default

    Maybe they need to be more specific. Another example of the misuse of terminology. (Anti- or Counter- Terrorism).

    Seems alot of the useage of the term anti-terrorism has been ill defined on multiple occassions. Lets be sure of what they are talking about. Just because they would have a plans cell in Northcom, and I am not so sure they have not always had one, if it's for anti-terrorism purposes it would seem perfectly logical. All you need to do is spend a week around Ft Bliss AO


    Antiterrorism Definition: Those passive defensive measures taken to minimize vulnerability to terrorism.

    Counterterrorism Definition: The full range of offensive measures taken to prevent, deter, and respond to terrorism.

    My 2cents.

    Ok, all you doctrinal phds fire away

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default

    Antiterrorism Definition: Those passive defensive measures taken to minimize vulnerability to terrorism.

    Counterterrorism Definition: The full range of offensive measures taken to prevent, deter, and respond to terrorism.
    You are doctrinally correct!

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default The UK has a long history of Armed Forces

    involvement in 'Support to the civil power' as do Canada and Mexico, Bill. We do not and we have traditionally avoided that with only rare exceptions -- such exceptions can and probably will occur in the future -- and my bet would be that most Americans want to keep it that way. I'd be even more willing to bet that the Armed Forces, mostly, will also want to keep it that way. Not to mention Congress...

    Gangs are a problem, no question but a percentage of the public goes bonkers whenever the Cops crack down on them too hard (hard being in the eye of the beholder). Try to hit them with an Armed Forces direct action crew and the ACLU, the relatively far left element in Congress and the netroots crowd would froth at the mouth -- IOW, it would likley create more problems that it would solve.

    The Cops, per se, are not overly oriented on the Terrorism bit; I've got two sons who are Cops, one on each coast. Their and neighboring departments get only peripherally and sporadically involved in the effort. The FBI and the other Federal LE agencies are another matter; they are too heavily involved to the detriment of their basic mission.

    Lack of resources is not nearly as much a problem as is allocation of those resources (plus their 'public relations image' and concern for pandering to Congress). Instead of setting Cops (the Feds) to catch Terrorists we should have a dedicated anti-espionage and counter terror agency ala the UK MI5. The cultural, operational and ethical requirements for law enforcement work and for CE/CT operations are dramatically, almost diametrically different -- the cops are in all respects poorly equipped and trained for the job. We didn't do it right due to the politics involved so we'll have to live with what we have.

    The FBI HRT is pretty capable in spite of some goofs and it can be expanded; most local and State Police have tactical response teams and some are quite good. There is adequate civil capability out there, it just isn't wisely organized and used and I expect that situation will improve as we move along, I know that efforts are underway to obtain such improvement.

    Full disclosure. Though a former SF Intel guy, I am not a USSOCOM fan, I think it was almost as great a mistake as was the formation of DHS -- though I will give SOCOM credit for great R&D, super good and well executed equipment procurement and forward thinking in many respects and will acknowledge that much of my dislike revolves around the long existing bureaucratic parochialism engendered by the way Congress allocates funds and favors and the turf and ego battles that engenders. I mention that mostly to say that SOCOM will always look for other missions; means more money and more spaces. This Northern Command mission, IMO is a bad, really bad, idea...
    Last edited by Ken White; 06-21-2007 at 04:29 PM. Reason: Added "Bill"

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    Default Posse Comitatus

    Beginning with the Whisky Rebellion when President Washington led federalized militia into Western Pennsylvania we have used the military in a wide variety of situations domestically. In 1878, as part of the agreements ending Reconstruction (the occupation of the South) Congress passed the posse comitatus act making it a crime for the Army to serve in a domestic law enforcement role - with very limited exceptions, many honored in the breach over the years. (The act really was enabling legislation for domestic terrorist like the Ku Klux Klan.) Recently, Congress has loosened the strings a bit particulary with regard to CD and CT ops. The Air Force is bound by posse comitatus as it was created from the Army while the Navy and USMC are not - DOD has applied it to them by policy but it is not the law. These are the ground rules under which the discussion needs to take place.

    Which brings us to NORTHCOM: 1. NORTHCOM's AOR is North America and adjacent waters - it includes Mexico and Canada. 2. As a unified command, it should have a SOF organization as does any other unified command. 3. JTF 6 has long operated with SOF components. 4. 19th and 20th SFG are National Guard units that can be used in either Title 32 or Title 10 status. (How to tie Title 32 NG units into a NORTHCOM controlled domestic op is an interesting but, I submit, not insoluble question.)

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default John, while well aware of the legal precedents --

    I believe I mentioned that we had used Federal Troops before (not least as Strike busters long after the Whiskey Rebellion - or the Civil War and its aftermath for that matter...) and stated we almost certainly would again -- I'm not sure that answers the problem.

    Exceptions to any law are always possible and the JTF 6 use of ArNG SOF is not quite the same thing this proposal envisions.. I suspect most of us are also aware of the history and application of Posse Comitatus.

    That said, I'm unsure how you can so categorically state that "these are the ground rules under which any discussion needs to take place." While they are fact, so to are facts that: Congress will have a say; Mr. and Mrs. America will have a say; DoD will have a say, OGA will have a say: JTF 6 will tell you it's a bad idea and, off the record, why and will remind you that placing armed Marines on the border did not go well (and Texas will tell you that they do not wish SF units employed in that role within the State); and more.

    You say NorthCom should have a SOF organization * just like any other unified command. Does this mean that TransCom and Joint Force Command shoyld also have a SOF organization?

    I believe you'll find that the Title 32 capability is not all encompassing in the LE and LE Assist roles; some States are cool with it, even automatically deputizing State activated Guard personnel; others are less happy with the idea. Further, the merging of Title 10 and Title 32 functions can get politically rather hairy. don't think it'll be that easy to sort out.

    That doesn't even get into the fact that SF has lost its way and probably shouldn't be helped to wander further; exempting1st Group, the others are all into direct action as opposed to IW. That is less due to national needs then to what SOCOM and the Groups want to do. I realize it's a lot more fun to kick in doors than it is to train Indigs and that it's easier to train door kickers than it is to train multi talented trainers but there is a question of role and mission diversion that may not be in the long term interest of the nation -- or of SF itself. Any way you cut it, normal direct action is not a SF mission.

    * All the Unified Geographic Commands do have a SOF organization but it picks up operational elements only on order and generally for specific operations. Having a NorthCom Theater SOC to plan, coordinate and facilitate is a good thing, I totally agree. Having an assigned direct action capability is an entirely different thing and is IMO, a very bad idea.

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    Default Looks like we'er not so far apart

    Ken--

    Sorry about the shorthand lumping functional and geographic unified commands together. We really are only talking about the latter. We seem to be in agreement that a SOCNORTH for planning is a good idea. Do we differ on the SOC also being a C2 element if there were a special op in the AOR? I favor it. As far as SOF operational elements being assigned to SOCNORTH:
    -I don't really see it happening unless we are talking about NG SOF and USAR PSYOP and Civil Affairs (which, I understand, are no longer SOF???). In fact, I expect that SOF, like most other forces would be OPCON as needed, which is OK by me.
    -The idea for a SOCNORTH expressed in the article is for the typical SOC w/o assigned troops; unless there is more info elsewhere.
    -I would never suggest that Congress not play - it set the posse comitatus rules and changed them, for better or worse. But it is the Congressionally written posse comitatus that, along with Art. II of the Constitution sets the prmary rules. Much of the discussion appeared to me to ignore that.
    -The public plays in many ways not the least in elections but it generally does not give very coherent advice.
    -DNI will have a say on intel matters and should.
    -I note that you point out the tragic events that the Marines were involved in in JTF6. But I have not seen any complaints about SOF in general or SF in particular in JTF 6. Seems to me that SF brings a superb set of skills to the strat recon mission - see, report, but don't be seen.
    -Title 32: state duty status. NG is under the command of the governor of the state and subject to state regs and laws regarding law enforcement. Granted that states differ. In and operational mission in Title 32 status the Guard can only be ordered to participate by the Governor.

    I am not saying that it is a good idea to assign forces COCOM to Northcom, in fact, it probably is both impractical and simply unhelpful. But I have no objection for the use of SOF controlled by a SOCNORTH in an OPCON status. And, despite the difficulties, I think some creative use of NG in Title 32 status might be a good idea.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default

    Maybe NORTHCOM has just been watching too much 24 and they want to put Jack in charge

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    Default

    In a war with a lot of bad ideas, this one is near the top.
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

    The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default Always Happens

    It always happens that a really good discussion gets going when I end up having a busy day at work. So here is my 2 cents.

    1-Posse Comitatus is a fact and it is a law. It also has exceptions which include Military Bases,National Parks and Indian reservations. In 73 or 74 when a bunch Indians shot some FBI agents on a reservation (Wounded Knee) I was about 5 minutes from boarding the aircraft at green ramp at Ft.Bragg/Pope AFB. All it took was a phone call. It does not apply to what a military commander would do on his base or protecting National Monuments or an Indian Reservation used as a staging area,etc. It just seems prudent that Northcom would at least have a SOF planning group to build contingency plans at the least.

    2-The US Military can not be sued. You can sue the US Govt. but not the military. You can be criminally prosecuted under the USC or UCMJ.

    3-Bill I just found out what 4GW stands for Gangs,Guerrillas,Groups of terrorist and Goof Ball individuals All your comments on gangs are dead on the average Joe has no idea what a threat this is. True Gang suppression TTP's have had an effect in some areas but they just spring up in other areas or splinter or just lay low for awhile.

    4-FBI HRT ahh can you say Waco. The FBI is an investigative agency that is what they are outstanding at and that is what they should do! That is why they were created in the first place.

    5- The primary federal Law Enforcement Agency is the US Marshal service. They were at the fore front of the civil rights movement and before you had Martial law you had Marshal law (pun intended). They have the authority to enforce federal court orders which is what they did and when they were out gunned they requested federal troops which were legally deployed in support of there mission. The President can assume this authority under his executive authority relative to the enforcing the laws of the land. When federalizing the State National Guard raised a question of loyalty, regular federal troops were deployed beginning with 101st in Little Rock,Ar. to start school desegregation.

    6-That's my 2 cents except John T.'s buddy wrote a fantastic paper called "Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency" it is in the SWJ library and I highly recommend it.

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default Question?

    "2-The US Military can not be sued. You can sue the US Govt. but not the military. You can be criminally prosecuted under the USC or UCMJ."

    I am under the understanding that a civil suit can be brought against a specific memeber of the military for that person's actions. Further during the JTF6 missions a Marine killed a shepherd on the border, there was a big deal about prosecuting the Marine and or suing the Marine for wrongful death. At the moment I unfortunately cannot remember the outcome, though I am sure someone here will.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default

    Maybe LawVol can help for an exact citation. A police officer can be sued individually (I know this from personal experience even when it was frimly established I had qualified immunity and two I literally just happen to be there I did not engage in any action) so unless something has changed or some type of special circumstance exist the military to include it's members can not be sued. But???the Us Government can be. Catch 22 type situation. You would not get money from the Matine Corps but you could get it from the US Govt. Can you give more details of this incident?

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    Default Urban insurgency

    slapout thanks, I always appreciate your street smart common sense and humor. I like your new definition of 4GW .

    You guys know I'm a bull in the china shop, so I'm going to step on some toes. The FBI HRT is O.K., but it pales in comparison to LA SWAT, which has a much larger budget, and a much larger pool of hardened street cops to assess from. Most large cities, with large tax bases have a capable SWAT unit; however, when you see SWAT teams responding in smaller towns (recall the recent shooting in the VA college) and you see grossly overweight cops in military camis (why do you need to look like a tree if you're clearing a building? why are they wasting time putting on camis? respond to the crisis quickly, no time for make up, throw on your SWAT jacket for ID purposes, and get on target, and hopefully don't be out of breath, is that asking to much), you realize they have no hope of resolving a terrorist situation. In the end they'll become traffic cops directing traffic around the site while the investigation ensues.

    For the U.S. I like the idea of forming a MI5 style organization that is a hybrid of law enforcement and intelligence organization that can focus on terrorist organizations and foreign based threats such as hostile state networks within our borders. They could use the Marshals (I assume) has their direct action arm, once they decided to roll up a target or organization.

    As mentioned in the other posts, NORTHCOM also covers Mexico and Canada. Since Northern Mexico is somewhat a lawless area, and a safehaven for 4th Generation Gangs that are undermining our economy and society, I would hope we would consider using SOF to interdict select targets preemptively. Since one of the Mexican Mafia's militia is largely composed of Mexican SOF trained by U.S. our return on investment with that option has been somewhat limited.

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Default

    Ken, I will have to disagree with you about the focus of Group right now on DA as opposed to UW. I am speaking as a 10th group guy so I am not really sure about the other groups but I can tell you we DEFINITELY have a stronger emphasis on UW/FID then on DA. I don't think that the emphasis has been weak on UW/FID on SOF's part but I do believe that a lot of Big Army commanders are uncomfortable with the idea of a bunch of "long haired cowboys" running around the country side with their own private militias (some of them actually believe this). I know that when dealing with some infantry commanders, the further you get from FM 7-8 the less comfortable they are. Some of them are not really sure what we do but it is not written down in a reg and must therefore be wrong. It gets old sometimes.

    SFC W

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default Grand Jury, 1997

    MARFA, Texas (CNN) -- A grand jury refused Thursday to indict Marine Cpl. Clemente Banuelos in the killing of Texas teen-ager Ezequiel Hernandez, whom the Marine shot while on a drug patrol along the U.S.-Mexico border....

    Although the defense department has supported the Marines -- they had radioed to superiors asking for permission to load their weapons and fire at Hernandez -- it has also suspended all missions that would put troops on the U.S.-Mexico border while it reviews military drug policies.

    It also is looking for a way to protect troops from criminal and civil liability should they be used on such missions in the future. It may seek immunity for troops provided they follow established rules of engagement or agreements with local law enforcement agencies.


    http://www.cnn.com/US/9708/14/border.shooting/

    (as far as I can tell nothing has been done to change the law or grant immunity, it was basically dropped after the case went away, therfor military are still liable criminally and civily, though the precedent of ROE in place could be argued -Troufion)
    Last edited by TROUFION; 06-22-2007 at 02:59 AM.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default You're right and my apologies, I should've said

    1st and 10th -- the poor 3rd, 5th and 7th are torn between both worlds (as are the 19th and 20th). My Francophone 3d Group Grandson in Law just got back from the 'Stan, did get to speak some French to the COS guys.

    As to your comments on the Big Army versus SF, tell me about it -- hasn't changed since I left the 7th in another lifetime

    I heard a rumor that the SO University is working up a better than the current effort to educate folks as they go through C&GS or its equivalents and all the War Colleges so they understand the SO piece a little better. If so, that will help but I don't guess there's much that can be done to eliminate the tendency toward parochialism...

    Illegitimi non Carborundum, keep the Faith...

  20. #20
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Don't much disagree, slapout 9...

    I don't really have a problem with NorthCom having an SOF planning and coordinating element; I would very strongly suggest that it might be better not to call it "SOC North" just on PR grounds and I do believe it should not have any direct action elements assigned. Nor do I think it need to be anywhere near the size of the OCONUS Geographic Commands.

    I was elsewhere when you went to Green Ramp but I did earlier go to CAAF to go to Little rock in '57 and to Green Ramp and then all the way to Mississippi in 62 to get Mr. Meredith in UMiss. Also went to Detroit in 68, and in a later life I worked occasioanl Garden Plot plans and a few disaster repsonses so I'm sorta familiar with the use of Federal troops in support of the old civil power.

    I don't think lawsuits are a big concern, I know they are for local LE -- got two sons who are Cops but as you say, the Armed Forces aren't going to be a target other than as individuals until the law gets changed.

    Re: The FBI HRT, Yeah, I can say Waco and I can say Ruby Ridge. Sometimes folks learn from their screwups, sometimes they don't. However, whether its the HRT, the Marshals, the USBP or ICE Reaction Force or the Wackenhut Team from Oak Ridge is immaterial to me as long as it is a civilian law enforcement agency.

    My suspicion is that while USSOCOM might not care much; if deployed and used, the shooters would be identified as "Delta" or "SEAL" or "MARSOC" and that senior folks in all colors of uniforms on E-Ring in the five sided funny farm would not like that at all. Right now Congress polls in the pits, 14% and the Armed forces are high -- the service chiefs like it that way and they do not want too many people that work for them going around shooting fellow Americans regardless of their culpability.

    A I also said, I agree Gangs are a big problem. I just don't agree on a military solution to them. Bad idea. Very bad idea.

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