Monday, December 1, 2008

Pentagon Assigns 20,000 Troops for Domestic Use by 2011

An active duty combat brigade was assigned to U.S. Northern Command for domestic purposes as of October 1. The 4,700 soldier, combat ready brigade is based at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Historically National Guard troops addressed our country's domestic needs, but they're slated to become the vast minority.

The U.S. military plans to grow to three large rapid reaction forces, 20,000 soldiers in total. Each force would be capable of responding to a domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive attack, or CBRNE event, as the military calls it. They also could respond to natural disasters, hurricanes, earthquakes, and widespread tornado outbreaks.

Ironically, 2005 found the Pentagon emphasizing preparation "for multiple, simultaneous mass casualty incidents" in the homeland. Hurricane Katrina struck that summer. The White House and Pentagon were flat footed. Who had the capability of evacuating large numbers of hospital patients in medically equipped C-130's?

Rescuing people in times of disaster is a very different function than performing law enforcement duties on domestic hallowed ground. Combat troops and first responders are likely not one in the same.