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By NWV News writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
October 26, 2009

[ participated in a "Bloggers Roundtable" with the Department of Defense. The following report is based on that teleconference.]

In a report released to the US Congress recently, analysts assessed what they termed "preparedness tests" between the US military and government agencies at the federal, state and local levels.

U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) exercises to test preparedness to perform its homeland defense and civil support missions. The Government Accountability Office was asked to assess the extent to which NORTHCOM is consistent with Department of Defense guidelines for training and exercise requirement involving interagency partners and states in its exercises.

NORTHCOM’s exercise program is generally consistent with the requirements of DOD’s Joint Training System, but its exercise reporting is inconsistent. Since the command was established in 2002, NORTHCOM has conducted 13 large-scale exercises and generally completed exercise summary reports within the required time frame.

However, those reports did not consistently include certain information, such as areas needing improvement, because NORTHCOM lacks guidance that specifies exercise reports’ content and format, potentially impacting its ability to meet internal standards for planning and execution of joint exercises, and to compare and share exercise results over time with interagency partners and states.

"While the rationale for using the US military domestically had been debated for years, President Barack Obama appears intent on using our military at least until he can create his promised 'Civilian Security Force' which he said would be as big and powerful as the military," said political strategist Mike Baker.

"The fact that the military -- in this instance NORTHCOM -- is being trained to operate with our borders should be setting off alarms throughout this nation. But it's being ignored even by those who profess to be conservatives," he said.

Nineteen federal agencies and organizations and 17 states and the District of Columbia have participated in one or more of the seven large-scale exercises that NORTHCOM has conducted since September 2005. However, NORTHCOM faces challenges in involving states in the planning, conduct, and assessment of its exercises, such as adapting its exercise system and practices to involve other federal, state, local, and tribal agencies that do not have the same practices or level of planning resources.

Inconsistencies with how NORTHCOM involves states in exercises are occurring in part because NORTHCOM officials lack experience dealing with states and do not have a consistent process for including states in exercises. Without such a process, NORTHCOM increases the risk that its exercises will not provide benefits for all participants, impact the seamless exercise of all levels of government, and potentially affect NORTHCOM’s ability to provide civil support capabilities.

"It is up to the residents of individual states to tell their governors they do not want the federal government intruding on law enforcement and public safety issues," said former NYPD detective and Marine intelligence officer Sid Frances.

"This is especially true if their governors share the same political philosophy as the President and his minions in Washington," he added.


NORTHCOM has a systematic lessons learned and corrective action program to improve preparedness, but gaps remain with collecting and sharing lessons with agency and state partners and managing corrective actions.

Access to the system NORTHCOM uses for managing exercise observations is limited for non-DOD participants, and DOD believes that the Department of Homeland Security’s system is not adequately protected from unauthorized users. NORTHCOM’s mitigation steps have not resolved the issues. In addition, about 20 percent of the corrective actions tracked by NORTHCOM were being closed prematurely due to gaps in oversight. Closing issues prematurely increases the risk that issues will reoccur and limits the knowledge gained and value of the exercise.

The Government Accountability Office is making recommendations to DOD to direct NORTHCOM to consistently involve the states in planning, executing, and assessing exercises and improve oversight of corrective actions.

The GAO is also recommending that DOD define when NORTHCOM should use planning and documentation requirements. DOD agreed or partially agreed with the recommendations and cited ongoing and future efforts to satisfy the recommendations’ intent. DOD did not fully address a recommendation on training to NORTHCOM staff on specific state emergency management structures.

GAO believes such training would benefit NORTHCOM personnel in advance of a crisis and for exercise planning.

The first active-duty unit dedicated to supporting US civilian authorities in the event of a nuclear, biological or chemical attack is wrapping up three days of intensive training in tactics to be used within the continental United States, according to Armed Forces Press Service representative Donna Miles.

Ms. Miles reported to news reporters, bloggers and Internet journalists that troops from the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team are at the Naval facility located in Indian Head, Maryland getting hands-on training in skills they would depend on to provide support during a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive incident, known here as a CBRNE.

However, not everyone is happy about this latest military development coming so close to the transition from the Bush White House to the Obama Administration. Some observers believe this plan is part of a deal between President Obama and the current Secretary of Defense who remained in his current position even after the Bush-Obama transition.

"While Obama and his team are making it sound as if they will use the military in a non-combative roll, part of the training being conducted is in urban warfare," claims Mike Baker.

"Obama appears oblivious to Posse Comitatus and to the US Constitution when it comes to using the military against civilians within US borders," he added.

While So-called military experts appear excited about this use of soldiers within the borders of the United States, many police commanders and officers are less enthusiastic.

"I cannot understand why the federal government is so intent on using such military force within our borders. It reminds me of the Branch Davidian massacre in Waco, Texas when the feds used excessive deadly force against men, women and children. And they used that deadly physical force based on false information," warns former Det. Frances.

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"While I've served in the military and continue as a reservist, as a [New Jersey] cop I'm troubled about the use of federal troops coming into our communities during any emergencies," said Detective Lieutenant Stephan Rodgers

Related Articles:

1 - Army Brigades Train for Homeland Response Mission, Dec. 13, 2008
2 - Bush Favors U.N. Over American Healthcare and Law, Sept. 4, 2007

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"It is up to the residents of individual states to tell their governors they do not want the federal government intruding on law enforcement and public safety issues," said former NYPD detective and Marine intelligence officer Sid Frances.