[Homestead] Troops inside U.S.? Yes

Lisa K.V. Perry lisakvperry at gmail.com
Tue Sep 23 20:46:34 EDT 2008

I think the timing is interesting given the recent financial news.

*Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1*

3rd Infantry's 1st BCT trains for a new dwell-time mission. Helping 'people
at home' may become a permanent part of the active Army
By Gina Cavallaro<gcavallaro at atpco.com?subject=Question+from+ArmyTimes.com+reader>-
Staff writer
Posted : Monday Sep 8, 2008 6:15:06 EDT

The 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last
60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore
essential services and escorting supply convoys.

Now they're training for the same mission ­ with a twist ­ at home.

Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day
control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command,
as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and
disasters, including terrorist attacks.

It is not the first time an active-duty unit has been tapped to help at
home. In August 2005, for example, when Hurricane Katrina unleashed hell in
Mississippi and Louisiana, several active-duty units were pulled from
various posts and mobilized to those areas.

But this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a
dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to
provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and
coordinate defense support of civil authorities.

After 1st BCT finishes its dwell-time mission, expectations are that
another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the
mission will be a permanent one.

"Right now, the response force requirement will be an enduring mission. How
the [Defense Department] chooses to source that and whether or not they
continue to assign them to NorthCom, that could change in the future," said
Army Col. Louis Vogler, chief of NorthCom future operations. "Now, the plan
is to assign a force every year."

The command is at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., but
the soldiers with 1st BCT, who returned in April after 15 months in Iraq,
will operate out of their home post at Fort Stewart, Ga., where they'll be
able to go to school, spend time with their families and train for their new
homeland mission as well as the counterinsurgency mission in the war zones.

Stop-loss will not be in effect, so soldiers will be able to leave the Army
or move to new assignments during the mission, and the operational tempo
will be variable.

Don't look for any extra time off, though. The at-home mission does not take
the place of scheduled combat-zone deployments and will take place during
the so-called dwell time a unit gets to reset and regenerate after a

The 1st of the 3rd is still scheduled to deploy to either Iraq or
Afghanistan in early 2010, which means the soldiers will have been home a
minimum of 20 months by the time they ship out.

In the meantime, they'll learn new skills, use some of the ones they
acquired in the war zone and more than likely will not be shot at while
doing any of it.

*They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to
deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos
in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield
explosive, or CBRNE, attack.

*Training for homeland scenarios has already begun at Fort Stewart and
includes specialty tasks such as knowing how to use the "jaws of life" to
extract a person from a mangled vehicle; extra medical training for a CBRNE
incident; and working with U.S. Forestry Service experts on how to go in
with chainsaws and cut and clear trees to clear a road or area.

The 1st BCT's soldiers also will learn how to use "the first ever nonlethal
package that the Army has fielded," 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier
said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons
designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

"It's a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they're fielding.
They've been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that
these modules were consolidated and this package fielded, and because of
this mission we're undertaking we were the first to get it."

*The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips
for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and,
beanbag bullets.

*"I was the first guy in the brigade to get Tasered," said Cloutier,
describing the experience as "your worst muscle cramp ever ­ times 10
throughout your whole body.

"I'm not a small guy, I weigh 230 pounds ... it put me on my knees in

The brigade will not change its name, but the force will be known for the
next year as a CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force, or CCMRF
(pronounced "sea-smurf").

"I can't think of a more noble mission than this," said Cloutier, who took
command in July. "We've been all over the world during this time of
conflict, but now our mission is to take care of citizens at home ... and
depending on where an event occurred, you're going home to take care of your
home town, your loved ones."

While soldiers' combat training is applicable, he said, some nuances don't

"If we go in, we're going in to help American citizens on American soil, to
save lives, provide critical life support, help clear debris, *restore
normalcy* and support whatever local agencies need us to do, so it's kind of
a different role," said Cloutier, who, as the division operations officer on
the last rotation, learned of the homeland mission a few months ago while
they were still in Iraq.

Some brigade elements will be on call around the clock, during which time
they'll do their regular marksmanship, gunnery and other deployment
training. That's because the unit will continue to train and reset for the
next deployment, even as it serves in its CCMRF mission.

Should personnel be needed at an earthquake in California, for example, all
or part of the brigade could be scrambled there, depending on the extent of
the need and the specialties involved.

*Other branches included*The active Army's new dwell-time mission is part of
a NorthCom and DOD response package.

Active-duty soldiers will be part of a force that includes elements from
other military branches and dedicated National Guard Weapons of Mass
Destruction-Civil Support Teams.

A final mission rehearsal exercise is scheduled for mid-September at Fort
Stewart and will be run by Joint Task Force Civil Support, a unit based out
of Fort Monroe, Va., that will coordinate and evaluate the interservice

In addition to 1st BCT, other Army units will take part in the two-week
training exercise, including elements of the 1st Medical Brigade out of Fort
Hood, Texas, and the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Bragg, N.C.

There also will be Air Force engineer and medical units, the Marine Corps
Chemical, Biological Initial Reaction Force, a Navy weather team and members
of the Defense Logistics Agency and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

One of the things Vogler said they'll be looking at is communications
capabilities between the services.

"It is a concern, and we're trying to check that and one of the ways we do
that is by having these sorts of exercises. Leading up to this, we are going
to rehearse and set up some of the communications systems to make sure we
have interoperability," he said.

"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. "It
makes me feel good as an American to know that my country has dedicated a
force to come in and help the people at home."

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