Tuesday, 07 August 2012

Military Vehicles in American Neighborhoods

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Armed military vehicles are patrolling Wisconsin neighborhoods as part of a training exercise on behalf of the United States Army Reserve. The Army Reserve issued a warning to residents of Sheboygan County in order to preempt fears caused by the sight of the vehicles.

“(Capt. William) Geddes said the U.S. Army Reserve wanted to alert the public to the training dates so residents are not alarmed when a pack of heavily armored military vehicles is driving around the county,” reports Sheboyganpress.com.

The exercises are taking place despite the fact that the troops have already received basic training in handling the M117 Armored Security Vehicles. “They’re vehicles that these military officers might use if they’re deployed, patrol vehicles,” Geddes said, adding that the drills were to ensure that officers didn’t get “rusty” in handling the M1117s. The vehicles, which are approximately the size of a large SUV, were used for patrols in Afghanistan.

According to the report, local authorities have not been briefed about the planned exercises, which are taking place August 5 through August 17. “Sheboygan County Administrator Adam Payne said he had not heard about the training exercises. Two city officials declined to comment, because they also had heard nothing about the training,” states Sheboyganpress.com.

But some analysts have articulated concerns that the exercises are just another opportunity for the American people to get “acclimated” with the presence of military vehicles on residential roads in the event of martial law.

In June, for example, heavily armed military vehicles were being used to patrol the streets of St. Louis as part of an exercise. Local media outlets attempted to paint the entire display in a positive light by featuring interviews with residents that supported the use of the military in order to “cut down on crime.”

One resident told Fox 2, “I think it’s the same way when you go to other countries … they don’t have police officers they have troops, and I think it kind of scares a lot of people … it might cut down on a whole lot of crime because they don’t know if they’re military or the police.”

“I think it’s fantastic because it might slow down some of the crime rate,” added another.

According to the Posse Comitatus Act, however, the military is not supposed to be used for the purposes of domestic law enforcement. The Act reads:

From and after the passage of this act it shall not be lawful to employ any part of the Army of the United States, as a posse comitatus, or otherwise, for the purpose of executing the laws, except in such cases and under such circumstances as such employment of said force may be expressly authorized by the Constitution or by act of Congress; and no money appropriated by this act shall be used to pay any of the expenses incurred in the employment of any troops in violation of this section and any person willfully violating the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof shall be punished by fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or imprisonment not exceeding two years or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Still, there have been indications that the federal government and military were preparing for mass civil unrest. News reports reveal that the Army and Department of Homeland Security recently purchased riot gear in anticipation of the Democratic National Convention, Republican National Convention, and the presidential inauguration. The Department of Homeland Security also purchased 450 million rounds of .40 caliber bullets.

President Obama’s signature on the National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order in March raised eyebrows and revealed that the federal government feared the type of emergency that requires the federal government to take control over national defense resources.

The purpose of the order, according to its contents, is to make sure the U.S. is prepared to mobilize technological and industrial resources "capable of meeting national defense requirements" and ensure "technological superiority of its national defense equipment in peacetime and in times of national emergency."

Fox News reported of the order, “It orders Cabinet agencies to determine military and civilian staffing and evaluate access to resources like suppliers, materials, skilled labor and professional and technical personnel. It also is intended to ensure the U.S. government is prepared ‘in the event of a potential threat to the security of the United States.’"

In 2010, CNBC reported that the Pentagon had been planning for the possibility of real economic threats to America:

Ever since the crash of 2008, the Defense Intelligence establishment has really been paying a lot of attention to global markets and how they could serve as a threat to U.S. National security interests. At one upcoming seminar that we’re going to see here next month, they’re going to be taking a look at a lot of the issues … [including] the use of sovereign wealth funds to manipulate markets, currencies; nation state economic collapse, sovereign default, nation state instability; U.S. Allies’ budgets, deficits, national security infrastructures.

At the same time, the Army launched an operation called “Unified Quest 2011” in which it studied the “implications of ‘large scale economic breakdown’ inside the United States that would force the Army to keep ‘domestic order amid civil unrest.'” The Quest also trained the Army in how to “deal with fragmented global power and drastically lower budgets.”

CNBC concluded, “All different parts of the Pentagon and Defense Intelligence establishment are looking at markets and looking at ways they can present a new kind of threat to the United States. These are the guys whose job it is to think of the worst possible things that could happen.”

More recently, a United States Army Military Police training manual for “Civil Disturbance Operations” was leaked that outlines how military assets would be used to handle riots, confiscate firearms, and kill Americans during mass civil unrest.

And a mass transport of military tanks through Burbank, California, has some concerned at the prospect of martial law.

Photo of M-1117 Armored Security Vehicle

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