Monday, August 08, 2005

Domestic War Plans Drafted

The Pentagon is in the midst of drafting and approving plans to use the military to respond to attacks in the United States. These plans are a huge deal because of the hitherto "hands-off" nature of the Pentagon with regards to domestic control and security. The Department of Defense must feel that the full-fledged military has something that local law enforcement and disater response teams don't. I think that those things are that the military offers more cohesion, more discipline, better communication, and above all, greater firepower. There are no real details as to the content of the drafted local war plans (good thing), but the chiddish (new idea)is that the Pentagon is even considering deplying the military for local purposes (beyond the standard National Guard deployment). Oh, the Pentagon says they will give control to the local authorities as soon as possible, but the fact remains that they plan to take and retain initial control of a volatile post-attack situation.

I'm all for it.
The U.S. military has devised its first-ever war plans for guarding against and responding to terrorist attacks in the United States, envisioning 15 potential crisis scenarios and anticipating several simultaneous strikes around the country, according to officers who drafted the plans.

The classified plans, developed here at Northern Command headquarters, outline a variety of possible roles for quick-reaction forces estimated at as many as 3,000 ground troops per attack, a number that could easily grow depending on the extent of the damage and the abilities of civilian response teams.

The possible scenarios range from "low end," relatively modest crowd-control missions to "high-end," full-scale disaster management after catastrophic attacks such as the release of a deadly biological agent or the explosion of a radiological device, several officers said.

Some of the worst-case scenarios involve three attacks at the same time, in keeping with a Pentagon directive earlier this year ordering Northcom, as the command is called, to plan for multiple simultaneous attacks.

The war plans represent a historic shift for the Pentagon, which has been reluctant to become involved in domestic operations and is legally constrained from engaging in law enforcement. Indeed, defense officials continue to stress that they intend for the troops to play largely a supporting role in homeland emergencies, bolstering police, firefighters and other civilian response groups.

But the new plans provide for what several senior officers acknowledged is the likelihood that the military will have to take charge in some situations, especially when dealing with mass-casualty attacks that could quickly overwhelm civilian resources.


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