Do we really need paramilitary training here?
North County Times (2008-10-12) Paul Jacobs
This Page: http://www.copswiki.org/Common/M656
JACOBS: Do we really need paramilitary training here?
By PAUL JACOBS - For The Californian
An online comment on last week's column on the Procinctu project in Homeland pointed out that "Procinctu" is of Latin origin and not Greek. Latin is the root of many languages and many a word has been borrowed. Mea culpa, as they say in Latin ---- I am an opinion columnist, not a linguist.
From comments made before county supervisors and online, some residents in the region of Homeland welcome the arrival of a paramilitary training camp thinking it will make the area safer ---- as if those at the facility will freely secure surrounding neighborhoods.
Does the idea of military-esque units in Humvees patrolling our streets and communities sound like the America we know, love and hope to preserve? Next time you are pulled over by the authorities, do you prefer them wearing camouflage rather than the uniform of a civilian peace officer? How about active military units operating on domestic soil?
Congress passed the Insurrection Act of 1807 to severely limit the president's ability to deploy the military within the United States. A portion of that act was modified by Congress as part of the Defense Authorization Bill of Sept. 30, 2007, allowing the president to deploy troops as a police force during a natural disaster, epidemic, serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or "other condition." The new law also changed the name of the chapter from "Insurrection" to "Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order."
A Sept. 8 article in Army Times reported that the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team has returned from Iraq after "patrolling in full battle rattle." The brigade now operates out of its home post at Fort Stewart, Ga., where they are under the day-to day control of the U.S. Army North, a component of the Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or man-made emergencies or disasters. "They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control," according to the article.
The commander, Col. Roger Cloutier, was quoted saying soldiers will learn how to use "the first ever non-lethal package that the army has fielded" to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them. "I don't know what America's overall plan is ---- I just know that 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that are standing by to come and help if they're called," Cloutier said.
Some top brass share my apprehension over firms such as Blackwater and Procinctu training our military. A July 22 article in the Virginian-Pilot quoted a July 10 memo from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asking: "Why have we come to rely on contractors to provide combat or combat-related security training ... Are we comfortable with this practice?"
Those living in the community of Homeland who want this facility might be careful about what they ask for. One of the conditions Blackwater could not mitigate on the project they wanted to build in Potrero was noise tests that indicated sound levels would exceed the allowable limits in San Diego County.
The Procinctu training camp is exempt from Riverside County's noise restrictions.
Homeland might get more bangs for the buck than anybody bargained for.
Paul Jacobs is a regular columnist for The Californian. E-mail him at TemeculaPaul@aol.com