Army Times: Combat Brigade Begins Homeland Tour October 1st – (Month Before Election)

by on September 28, 2008 · 12 comments

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3rd Infantry’s 1st Brigade trains for a new dwell-time mission. Helping ‘people at home’ may become a permanent part of the active Army

By Gina Cavallaro / Staff writer Army Times / originally posted : Monday Sep 8, 2008 REPOSTED DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND

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 deployment.

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 seconds.”

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 apply.

“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 event.

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.” [Go here for the article at Army Times.]

GO HERE FOR OUR QUESTIONS FOR COL. CLOUTIER, COMMANDER  OF THE 3D DIVISION, FIRST BRIGADE.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Frank Gormlie September 23, 2008 at 10:26 am

Here is a post by mikel weisser on this issue, posted at OpEdNews:
Greetings from So-Hi.

Out below, in my front horizon, is a stretch of highway 68 known as Union Pass. It is the straight line across the horseshoe bend on I-40 at the western Arizona border. Over the Black Mountains, where trains couldn’t go and so Route 66 didn’t follow, from Kingman the route runs west 27 miles and in the last 12 falls 3000 feet to Bullhead City, the fabled Colorado and the casinos of Laughlin Nevada, or, a hundred miles farther up the road, the casinos of Las Vegas.

At night, the stars trail down out of the mountains to crawl across Golden Valley below. It’s quite a sight, endless. These days 68 flows through here day and night. It is the alternative route for points East to Vegas and the only one for trucks and heavy vehicles, a detour around the Hoover Dam, ever since the terrorists won back in ’01.

I see my share of traffic up close as well.

I drive that pass to work and often watch the trucks along the way, noting the armored vehicles being hauled west. I spot them more often than I’d like. Flat bed trailers, not always military rigs towing them, weaponry lunging like roped animals with each highway jostle, cannons strapped to the deck tugging at their tether. Machine gun barrels, ropes in place, windows taped over. Bradleys, Humvees, trucks, incomprehensible wheeled vehicles with arms and levers, and the tanks, at least a tank a month that I see, driven through this route, west. Where do they go, you can’t help but wonder.

This week, 9/22/08, I hope I didn’t get an answer. But it appears this election round’s October Surprise may be a little livelier than I’d been expecting, having hoped for cupcakes. It looks like the Bush Admin Homeland Security is preparing for the next front in the War on Terror right here at home: terrorizing Americans so we’ll shut up about impeaching and or arresting Bush or any other crowd sized reaction to the disasters he’s created for us.
Army Times reported it, Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman echoed it, and now everyone’s message board from Ron Paul to Nine Inch Nails is buzzing with the fact that a unit from our forces in Iraq, the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, is being deployed to … the US. That’s right, now the enemy is us.

Somebody page Alex Jones and let him know his padded cell at the Denver Detention Center is ready. If there really are Bilderbergs, this looks like an EndGame. The article goes on to say that the unit is being prepared if “called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control. The soldiers are learning to use so-called non-lethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals and crowds.”

Flaunting the once sacrosanct Posse Comitatus Act prohibiting the use of US soldiers against US citizens, the Bush move is the first time an actual active army fighting force has been designated to a strategic planning military group known as the US Army North. That’s right from the Northern Command, every conspiracy theorist’s worst nightmare, the same folk who bring you the martial law drills every year. They would also be the same ones back about seven years ago who created those hijack plane drills that happened to take place on the exact same day real planes were crashed into the Twin Towers—the ominous mystery men in films like Dylan Avery’s Loose Change and Zeitgeist. The first line of defense in a case of national emergency or martial law.

Perhaps the soldiers are in actuality preparing for something that will never take place and we leftwing discredited are panicking over nothing. The government is just being prepared, providing for a common defense. Hey, there will probably be a peaceful transfer of power come January and no one will object in the slightest to any of Bush’s actions between now and then and any election results between now and then. Maybe I’m just nuts. OK, we know I’m nuts, but maybe I’m nuts and wrong. Maybe the Neo-cons are the nice people they always say they are and they have no need to fear they will ever be held accountable for the rape-fest they’ve been having with Lady Liberty these last eight years.

But maybe Bushco is scared. I know I would be. The house of greed Repub “Free Market” policies built, in part led by good old John McCain’s deregulation efforts in the late 90s, has opened the door for the greatest economic disaster/swindle in history, a national economic disaster to the tune of 700 billion dollars, even topping Brother Neil Bush and company’s half a trillion dollar S&L scandal in the 80s. It is another case where everyone’s money will be going to the richest 1%–another case where the very people who claim to detest class warfare fire the first shot.

First Bushco gives energy companies the license to pillage, then gives social program money to war profiteers with a phony war he knows is unwinnable while neglecting the war in Afghanistan and the misery we still manage to create there and all the while managing to find the spare time to screw over both the environment and lobbyist bought hookers, or least that’s how the ballers’ roll in the Denver offices of Dept. of Interior these days. And now, giving what ever is left Wall Street, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and AIG for screwing up by being too greedy. America can no longer afford her people, the rich need their money.

And the millions of mortgages that have been held by those companies, will now be owned by your favorite uncle, Big Brother Bush. No need for elections when this kind of class warfare turns to shooting warfare. Call in the army and open the cages. This could make Hoover’s Bonus Army debacle look like an Easter Egg roll.

Now I know where all those tanks and trucks and weapons of mass destruction are headed: home to roost.
–mikel weisser writes from the west coast of AZ.

Reply

avatar Frank Gormlie September 23, 2008 at 11:07 am

What is a Brigade Combat Team? Here is an answer from http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/army/bct-infantry.htm:

Although the exact configuration of units will vary, the Army has identified a basic Infantry UA design. Depending upon mission requirements, these units could be delivered by parachute or helicopter. The Infantry UAs will consist of approximately 3,000 soldiers and will be composed of the following subordinate units:

* One Brigade Troops Battalion including the UA staff, a military police (MP) platoon, a signal company, an intelligence company, an engineer company, and a fire support coordination cell.
* One Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) Battalion with both motorized and dismounted reconnaissance units; a surveillance unit including ground radars, sensors, and unmanned aerial vehicles; and a forward support company. The light Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the past had no organic brigade level reconnaissance. It used the scouts of its battalions and either pulled them up to the brigade or just left them down there at battalion level so now there is an entire battalion for that same Brigade Combat Team.
* Two Infantry Battalions consisting of three rifle companies and one combat support company each; and a forward support company, capable of moving one company by truck.
* One Strike Battalion consisting of a target acquisition platoon, an unmanned aerial vehicle unit, a forward support company, and two batteries of towed artillery.
* One Support Battalion consisting of a transport platoon capable of moving almost an entire infantry battalion by truck.
The Infantry UA will be equipped with a network battle command system and will receive augmentation from an Aviation UA when the mission dictates.

Because of the infantry brigade’s flexible design, it is highly capable in mixed terrain defense, urban combat, mobile security missions, and stability operations, additionally, it has sufficient motor transport to support most missions.The following are key doctrinal characteristics:

* Greater network connectivity and additional fire and air support parties distributed throughout the organization would make better use of non-organic lethal and suppressive fire support.
* More experienced staff and higher ratio of senior field leadership to personnel enabling the
* Brigade Command teams enhanced effectiveness.
* Increased reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities.
* Optimized for high tempo offensive operations against both conventional and unconventional forces in multiple combat situations including rugged and mixed terrain defense, urban combat, mobile security missions, and stability operations.
* Employ fewer long-range anti-tank systems while utilizing multi-purpose direct fire weapons.
* Maintain better suppression and rapid response precision because of self-contained close-fire support.
* Highly deployable and versatile, enabling contribution to joint team missions.
* Maintain full-time all around security for all organic and attached elements in any mission context.
* Function without drawing on line company strength to secure and protect command posts, combat support organizations and combat service support units.
* Highly mobile with the ability to transport nearly all assets by organic motor transport.
* Brigade is totally transportable by rotary wing aircraft.

Reply

avatar karla mcduffie September 24, 2008 at 8:42 pm

Ummm . . where will they lock up the unruly crowds who’ve been tazed in the streets? Gitmo, perhaps? I hope that any would-be protesters won’t be eviscerated in any way similar to what’s been done to our constitution. . . and the posse comatatus. I’ll vacation to San Francisco in early October; I’m thinking its a good time to be on the other coast. People who loose their pensions over there are too laid back to take to the streets.

Has anyone mentioned PTSD?
Karla

Reply

avatar Frank Gormlie September 24, 2008 at 8:46 pm

Okay, Karla – we give – what is the connection to PTSD?

Reply

avatar mikel weisser September 28, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Frank Gormlie?

Were you and i in the same Navy basic training unit in April-May 1981 in San Diego?

mikel weisser

Reply

avatar Frank Gormlie September 29, 2008 at 8:12 am

Mikel – no, I was in the army in the late 60s. But tell us about your experiences and where you’re at now.

Reply

avatar mikel weisser September 30, 2008 at 9:34 pm

I was briefly in the Navy, a Boiler Tech. After a pretty experience in boot, my wife had trouble come up at home while i was in service school. It was shortly after Vietnam and i was discharged to go home to my wife and baby. We worked out the problems at the time and stayed married for 23 years after that. But her problems kept coming up, depression, and eventually she succeeded in killing herself.
I have since remarried and after a couple of years of selfimpopsed hermitage, have remarried and resumed my political writing career in addition to being a school teacher, social studies.

So interesting that you should ask all this. Thank you. Like the peace sign in the website logo. Here is my latest column: http://www.opednews.com/articles/Current-Comedy-9-29-08-Th-by-mikel-weisser-080930-380.html

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