The Civil War of 2016: U.S. military officers are told to plan to fight Americans
The Washington Times
7 August 2012
Imagine Tea Party extremists seizing control of a South Carolina town and the Army being sent in to crush the rebellion. This farcical vision is now part of the discussion in professional military circles.
At issue is an article in the respected Small Wars Journal titled Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A ‘Vision’ of the Future. It was written by retired Army Col. Kevin Benson of the Army's University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and Jennifer Weber, a Civil War expert at the University of Kansas. It posits an “extremist militia motivated by the goals of the ‘tea party’ movement” seizing control of Darlington, S.C., in 2016, “occupying City Hall, disbanding the city council and placing the mayor under house arrest.” The rebels set up checkpoints on Interstate 95 and Interstate 20 looking for illegal aliens. It’s a cartoonish and needlessly provocative scenario.
The article is a choppy patchwork of doctrinal jargon and liberal nightmare. The authors make a quasi-legal case for military action and then apply the Army’s Operating Concept 2016-2028 to the situation. They write bloodlessly that “once it is put into play, Americans will expect the military to execute without pause and as professionally as if it were acting overseas.” They claim that “the Army cannot disappoint the American people, especially in such a moment,” not pausing to consider that using such efficient, deadly force against U.S. citizens would create a monumental political backlash and severely erode government legitimacy.
The vision is hard to take seriously. As retired ArmyBrig. Gen. Russell D. Howard, a former professor at West Point, observed earlier in his career, “I am a colonel, colonels write a lot of crazy stuff, but no one listens to colonels, so I don’t see the problem.” Twenty years ago, then-Air Force Lt. Col. Charles J. Dunlap Jr. created a stir with an article in Parameters titled “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012.” It carried a disclaimer that the coup scenario was “purely a literary device intended to dramatize my concern over certain contemporary developments affecting the armed forces, and is emphatically not a prediction.”
The scenario presented in Small Wars Journal isn’t a literary device but an operational lay-down intended to present the rationale and mechanisms for Americans to fight Americans. Col. Benson and Ms. Weber contend, “Army officers are professionally obligated to consider the conduct of operations on U.S. soil.” This is a dark, pessimistic and wrongheaded view of what military leaders should spend their time studying.
A professor at the Joint Forces Staff College was relieved of duty in June for uttering the heresy that the United States is at war with Islam. The Obama administration contended the professor had to be relieved because what he was teaching was not U.S. policy. Because there is no disclaimer attached to the Small Wars piece, it is fair to ask, at least in Col. Benson’s case, whether his views reflect official policy regarding the use of U.S. military force against American citizens.
UPDATE: The standard Defense Department disclaimer was added to the article after The Washington Times drew attention to the omission.
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HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
OF COMMON TASKS
DISTRIBUTION RESTRICTION: Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited
CONDUCT COMBAT OPERATIONS ACCORDING TO THE LAW OF WAR
Given a combat situation and you are faced with the following:
7. Observing a member of your force about to perform an illegal action.
8. Receiving an order to perform an illegal action.
1. Perform combat operations using lawful weapons and tactics, and engaging only lawful targets.
2. Treat all captives, civilians, and their property saccording to the law of war.
3. Take appropriate action when faced with violations of the law of war or illegal orders.
TRAINING AND EVALUATION
1. Perform your combat mission using lawful weapons and tactics, and attack only lawful targets.
(b) Unlawful tactics include... using enemy marked vehicles and uniforms during combat, and booby trapping dead or wounded personnel.
(c) Attack only combat targets. Use the firepower necessary to accomplish your mission but avoid needless destruction.
(2) Undefended civilian buildings are not combat targets.
2. Treat captives, civilians, and property on the battlefield according to the law of war.
(a) Allow enemy soldiers to surrender.
(1) Protect them from acts of violence, intimidation and sexual abuse. (2) Safeguard captives from the violence of cambat. Captives may not be used as shileds, screens, to claer mines or booby traps, or as hostages.
(b) Treat all civilians humanely. Treat them as you would want to be treated.
(1) Do not use physical force or mental coercion on civilians. Protect them from acts of violence, intimidation and sexual abuse.
3. Identify violations of law or illegal orders and try to stop them. Report all violations by friendly or enemy troops.
(a) Violations of law of war are criminal acts. They are punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
(b) If you believe the law of war is being violated, do your best to stop it.
(1) Clarify unclear orders by repeating what you believe to be your correct orders.
(2) State that you disagree with the act.
(3) Use moral arguements.
(4) Threaten to report the act.
(5) Ask the senior soldier to stop the act.
(6) Refuse to obey an order to commit a criminal act.
(c) If the act is done or the criminal order is not withdrawn, immediately report the act or order through your chain of command. If the chain of command is not appropriate (such as when a member of the chain of command is suspected of committing a criminal act), report it to the Inspector General (IG), provost marshall, chaplan, or a Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG) officer. You must report all war crimes no matter who commits them. Crimes committed by the enemy must also be reported.
(d) - Obedience to orders.
It is a defense to any offense that the accused was acting pursuant to orders unless the accused knew the orders to be unlawful or a person of ordinary sense and understanding would have known the orders to be unlawful.
(k) Lack of mental responsibility.
The issue of mental responsibility shall not be considered as an interlocutory question.
(l) Not defenses generally.
(1) Ignorance or mistake of law.
Ignorance or mistake of law, including general orders or regulations, ordinarily is not a defense.
On the other hand, reliance on the advice of counsel that a certain course of conduct is legal is not, of itself, a defense.
-Manual for Courts Martial, Uniform Code of Military Justice
Rule 307. Preferral of charges
(a) Who may prefer charges.
Any person subject to the code may prefer charges.
(b) How charges are preferred; oath.
A person who prefers charges must:
(1) Sign the charges and specifications under oath before a commissioned officer of the armed forces authorized to administer oaths; and
(2) State that the signer has personal knowledge of or has investigated the matters set forth in the charges and specifications and that they are true in fa t to the best of that person ’s knowledge and belief.
(c) How to allege offenses.
(1) In general.
The format of charge and specification is used to allege violations of the code.
( 2 ) Charge .
A charge states t h e article of the code, law of war, or local penal law of an occupied territory which the accused is alleged to have violated.
A specification is a plain, concise, and definite statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged. A specification is sufficient if it alleges every element of the charged offense expressly or by necessary implication. No particular format is required.
-Manual for Courts Martial
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