I've blogged on US Army troops serving on American soil before (here: http://thepete.com/…-inside-us and here: http://thepete.com/…de-the-us/ ) and on Tuesday of this week (here: http://www.democracynow.org/…it_will_be ) Democracy Now covered the topic as well. They had a mini-debate on the topic of the Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Team serving under US Army North, which, Amy Goodman explained, is "the Army service component of Northern Command". She had on Army Col. Michael Boatner, future operations division chief of USNORTHCOM, and Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine to discuss the issue.

The transcript does make for good reading and, to be fair, Boatner does assuage some fears about a unit of active duty soldiers functioning on American soil. However, what the debate doesn't discuss is the slippery slope argument. There's another phrase that can describe the danger more accurately: Mission Creep.

This is when your mission is to achieve one goal, but along the way you see something else you can do so you just do it, rather than getting permission or get any other feedback about it. This is fine if you're doing chores around the house, but when you're a soldier trained to kill insurgents (and have just came back from doing exactly that) I don't think even an inch of mission creep is acceptable.

In the Democracy Now segment, Boatner assured us that soldiers wouldn't be bringing their "heavy weapons and combat vehicles" with them on this domestic service but that "They would bring their individual weapons, which is the standard policy for deployments in the homeland."

Now, think about this--do you really want to have some guy with an M-16 patrolling the streets during a disaster? What if he makes a single mistake and mis-identifies someone as a threat who really isn't one? During Katrina I remember members of the press identifying black people wading through flood waters with garbage bags in their hands as looters. Meanwhile, white people wading through the water with suitcases were identified as refugees.

Any human is capable of this kind of mistake. What makes this mistake even more dangerous is when someone trained to defend themselves with a gun makes it.

Read more (if you want to) at my blog.
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