Michael Drinks the Kool-Aid

…or maybe not. You decide: paranoid overreaction or wise perception?

The Carroll National Guard unit will train on urban military operations by holding a four-day exercise at Arcadia.

The purpose of the April 2-5 drill will be to gather intelligence, then search for and apprehend a suspected weapons dealer, according to Sgt. Mike Kots, readiness NCO for Alpha Company.

Citizens, law enforcement, media and other supporters will participate.

Read the whole thing.

Call me a fool, but I’m not jumping to the same conclusion as Michael Bane, who says:

This “exercise” is a test run for door-to-door gun confiscation. There is no other way to read it.

Look, to me a lot of the article reads like the reporter regurgitated the standard boilerplate the military hands out to the media for any “urban warfare” exercise. We have one of these every couple of years somewhere in California — complete with water landings — and somebody always starts bleating about how it’s evidence they’re training for operations against US civilians, yada yada. It seems to me much more likely that here, some clueless REMF decided troops rotated back home needed something to do, and set up a standard Iraq/Afghanistan training exercise — searching for a weapons dealer — without (heavens!) thinking of how a small minority of gun-rights advocates might react.

That being said, this might be an interesting opportunity to educate the clueless REMF on just how badly he or she screwed up the PR on this one. Make it a search for a kidnapper or roadside bomb-maker, instead of a weapons dealer, and nobody would have complained.
The other thing is, I have no military experience on which to draw to evaluate this. RNS readers have a bunch. Michael Bane notes:

I spend a lot of time with military trainers…if a unit thinks they can train for Iraq by running exercises of these types in Iowa, they are worse than stupid…they are risking their people’s lives.

Opinions, please?

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9 Responses to Michael Drinks the Kool-Aid

  1. Myles says:

    I’ve never liked the idea of using civilian communities to run training exercises like this… even when I was in the service. A lot of military bases are large enough (and have enough housing/shops/light industrial buildings, etc) to do this on post. Going “downtown” like this seems overly aggressive, and gets reactions like Michael Bane’s. He may also have a point, remember, there were National Guard units helping the police pull guns in New Orleans.

  2. I think he’s over-reacting. Part of the purpose for these exercises is to give the troops a chance to operate amongst civilians who will not react in predictable ways. Building a town on a base, or running a training exercise on a base with other troops playing the role of “civvie” is not very realistic as the “civvies” know the drill. Even if the military recruited a bunch of “civvies” to take part in an exercise on a base, it would still be lacking.

    Finding a community, with all the trimmings, that is willing to play host to the training op gives the troops a chance to experience how non-uniform a community can be. It also gives the citizens a chance to interface with the troops and remember that such troops are people too, not bloodthirsty killers, or monsters, or faceless warriors on the news.

  3. Greg says:

    Speaking from experience I know that this type of training has been going on for decades. It has, or at least in the past had, nothing to do with preparation for domestic military operations and/or violations of the posse comitatus act. It was just vastly more convenient to train for all sorts of urban special operations amongst friendly, cooperative and often former military American police and civilians than try to do the same thing in foreign countries or reproduce city sized hogans alleys for training; or worse, learn on the job under fire.

    That said, anything you learn practising in the U.S. is obviously more applicable in the U.S. than overseas. I don’t think there is any bad intent in the exercises, but as Myles points out those skills can be abused in a Katrina-like situation.


  4. Rivrdog says:

    Having had full careers in BOTH the military and police services, I’m here to tell you that both of those organizations strive to “train like they will fight”.

    Michael Bane is correct to worry. Of course the military could have trained on a military post. Almost all of them have various “training villages” built on them for this purpose.

    “Train like you will fight” means if you are going to fight in the towns, train in the towns. The reverse is also true. If you are training in the towns, it’s because you want to be able to fight in the towns.

    Will these locally-trained soldiers ever be called on to fight in the towns they trained in?

    None of us can answer that question at this time, so what we have to ponder on is the circumstances of their training. Pondering that led Michael Bane to his conclusions.

    His conclusions are correct, as far as the extrapolations rationally carry them.

  5. Armeggedon Rex says:

    As an intel analyst who has been working both Iraq & Afghan theaters for several years, I must say the effective utility for OIF / OEF training for such operation conducted in the average U.S. town or city is highly suspect. The infrastructure is radically different. Iraqi and Afghani building layouts and construction are completely different than those found in any U.S. neighborhood I’ve ever seen. Many of the common threats from both IED and direct enemy engagement will be nearly impossible to train for because most U.S. cities or towns have things like paved roads and routine garbage collection. We have effective governments that tend to tow away broken down gutted vehicle hulks instead of leaving them scattered on the roadside. There is a permit process for holding rallys, religious or otherwise, etc. In short a huge difference in environment that makes the entire idea rather silly. U.S. citizens act quite differently that Afghani or Iraqi civilians who are used to seeing armed patrols on thier streets. Indeed, in Iraq, children tagging along and otherwise distracting a foot patrol sometimes doubles or triples the amount of time you plan on taking to move a given distance. In America, a fireteam or platoon moving down a street in open order causes parents to rush out and pull thier children inside. It causes motorists to pull over, or turn down a side street. In the U.S. this is normal behavior to seeing a larg group of armed men where you didn’t expect to see them, but in Iraq, it might be quite sinister. In Astan, outside of Kabul or Khandahar vehicular traffic is noticably scarce, while it’s wall to wall vehicles in most U.S. cities & towns. The bundled (burka clad)woman issue in both Iraq & Astan adds a dimention of worry and real threat that will be entirely abscent from training in a U.S. city or town. All this makes training for OEF or OIF missions in a U.S. urban setting pretty much a waste of time.
    This then begs the question, why do it….?

  6. Army of Dad says:

    Fours years in-not a single off base training op agaisnt a civilian target. Ever. I was in a position to know about it and the largest Army base in the country never did this. We had over two full divisions when I was there and hosted countless reserve and guard units.

    The people getting fired up over this should be! Besides they are just doing what dear leader asked of them and getting in people’s faces…

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  8. A. Rex seems to have disproved my point. I stand corrected.

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