The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

For What It’s Worth

September 25, 2008

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away

—- Buffalo Springfield, 1967

The Army Times reported on September 8 that the Army has a brand new mission — and potential battleground: American soil.

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.

…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.

Apparently, outside of a specific national emergency, this is the first such deployment since the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.

The Army Times reports that this is the first time an active unit has been given NorthCom as a dedicated command and that the mission is permanent. Another brigade will replace the 1st BCT when it completes its tour.

Is tour the right word when deployed at home?

If you recall my July 4, 2007, post on “National Continuity Policy” (and NSPD 51), then you might understand why this bothers me and why I began this post with some lines from an old Buffalo Springfield song.

“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,” [1st BCT commander Col. Roger] Cloutier said.


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Rodger A. Payne is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville. He serves on the University’s Sustainability Council and was a co-founder of the Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice program. He is the author of dozens of journal articles and book chapters and coauthor, with Nayef Samhat, of Democratizing Global Politics: Discourse Norms, International Regimes, and Political Community (SUNY, 2004). He is currently working on two major projects, one exploring the role of narratives in international politics and the other examining the implications of America First foreign policy.