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In the era of consistently wars, recruits who are absorbed by abundant rewards can assurance up for added than they realize, writes Rebecca Gordon.



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By Rebecca Media adolescent acquaintance is actively because abutting her state’s Civic Guard. She’s a world-class athlete, but additionally a banal woman from a rural accomplishments aggressive in a affluent person’s sport. Amid seasons, she works for a bounded acreage and agent to put calm the money for accessories and travel.

Each season, adopting the all-important money to attempt is a alarming proposition, so she’s now talking to the Civic Guard. If, afterwards basal training, she joins the Army’s World Chic Athletes Program as a reservist, her account will about abide of aggressive in her sport. She’ll get an anniversary salary, bloom care, academy charge — all to do what she loves and wants to do anyway. What could possibly go wrong?



Well, she could end up angry in one of this country’s forever wars.

Tennessee Guard prepares for Iraq deployment, 2010. (The Civic Guard via Flckr)



That’s what happened to bags of Civic Guard troops and reservists aback Washington apparent its all-volunteer armament were woefully bare for the activity of application Iraq afterwards the 2003 invasion. As then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld abundantly explained, Washington went to war with the Army it had, “not the Army you ability ambition you have.” So the Civic Guard abounding in the gaps, supplying up to 41 percent  of the troops deployed there by 2005. By 2011, added than 300,000 Guards had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as well.

Real Soldiers Angry Absolute Wars

Members of the Civic Guard assurance on to alternation one weekend a ages and two weeks a year in acknowledgment for some abundant rewards, including (at the moment) a possible $20,000 signing bonus. But what abounding of them don’t apprehend is how acceptable it is that, about forth the line, they’ll be deployed for a lot added than two weeks.

The Civic Guard isn’t the alone force whose associates assurance up for 12 weekends and two weeks a year. The approved armed armament additionally advance reserves, soldiers who appetite to amalgamate aggressive account with noncombatant life. Clashing the Civic Guard, however, they acknowledgment alone to federal, not to bifold (state and federal), authority. Like the Guard, reservists can be deployed for abundant best than a weekend. A photograph beatific home from Iraq by a reservist classically summed up the bearings encountered by both types of part-time soldiers, again and now. It shows a aggressive agent with this signdisplayed beyond the windshield: “One Weekend a Month, My Ass!”

In fact, as the Guard explains, its “343,000 Soldiers, 8 analysis headquarters, 27 army action teams, 55 anatomic abutment brigades, 42 multifunctional brigades, 8 action aerodynamics brigades and 2 Appropriate Armament groups” accomplish it an basic allotment of the U.S. armed forces. Today, it operates 42 percent of all aggressive aircraft and aliment 39 percent of the Army’s operational armament — about the aforementioned admeasurement it provided during the aboriginal years of the Iraq War.

For example, although Admiral Barack Obama officially ended Operation Constant Freedom (the U.S.’s post-9/11 war in Afghanistan) in 2014, the Guard continues to arrange to that actual war zone, with 400 Illinois reservists, another 400 from Wisconsin, 100 from Georgia, 50 from Colorado, and 46 from New York sent there as afresh as this December and January. And not alone are they actuality deployed to Afghanistan, but they’re still dying there. Amid the 60 beatific from Utah in November 2018, for instance, was Brent Taylor, the ambassador of the boondocks of Arctic Ogden, who was killed during an “insider attack” at a abject in Kabul. Accustomed the provisional peace agreement reportedly now actuality adjourned amid the U.S. and the Taliban, there is at atomic a bashful achievement that the deployments of such part-time soldiers to America’s longest war may end in some apprehensible future.

As TomDispatch regular Nick Turse has observed, it’s difficult to get specifics from the U.S. aggressive about abundant of anything, whether it’s foreign bases or deployment numbers. But it’s bright that the Guard now goes everywhere the approved Army and Air Force go. Its associates accept served in U.S. conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and Libya, amid added places. They are now deployed in at atomic 56 countries about the world, from Macedonia and Kosovo to Egypt, not to acknowledgment the Mexican bound central the U.S.

Arizona Civic Guard in Sharana, Afghanistan, 2009. (The Civic Guard via Flckr)

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The Guard appreciates the appropriate abilities its associates advance in noncombatant life, which is how the 50-year-old uncle of one of my acceptance begin himself deployed as a doctor in Iraq in 2005. Indeed, the soldiers who so infamously abused detainees at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib bastille aback in 2004 additionally had appropriate abilities acid in their noncombatant jobs — as bastille guards. In fact, Specialist Charles Graner, the torturers’ ringleader, wrote home at the time, “The Christian in me says it’s wrong, but the corrections administrator in me says, ‘I adulation to accomplish a developed man piss himself.’”

Protecting the Homeland

But wait! Aren’t the Civic Guard the troops who accomplishment us from fires and floods, the ones who are called out when there’s a accustomed disaster?

Indeed, they are mobilized for aloof that in times of peril, but responding to civic disasters has never been the Guard’s capital purpose, although application efforts often emphasize that role. Today’s Civic Guard represents the change of the aboriginal accompaniment militias, created for aggressive purposes — angry enemies from Indian nations on this abstemious to rebels in the Philippines. The Civic Guard Bureau’s 2019 “posture statement” identifies “three amount missions.” None of these absorb acknowledging aristocratic athletes, but neither is there any acknowledgment of the Guard’s acclaimed role in adjoin fires or floods. Its declared amount missions are “fighting America’s wars, accepting the homeland, and architecture constant partnerships.” Those “enduring partnerships” about-face out to be arrange with aggressive armament in the 79 countries (just beneath a third of the world’s nations) area the Civic Guard has “strategic accompaniment partnerships,” or SSPs.

My acquaintance tells me that the approved Army and Air Force attending bottomward on the Guard; they’re not absolute soldiers in the eyes of the full-time military. Maybe that’s why General Joseph Lengyel, the arch of the Civic Guard Bureau, whose photo and signature acquaint that aspect statement, is at pains to represent those armament not as the affable association in compatible who cull flooded-out Americans off their roofs, but as a full-on angry force. In case there’s any doubt, illustrated with assets and photos of a multicultural arrangement of rifle-toting men and women, it says clearly: “Fighting America’s wars will consistently be the primary mission of the Civic Guard.”

But what about that additional amount mission, “securing the homeland”? Could that be area its accustomed adversity assignment comes in? Not according to the aspect statement, which puts it this way:

“The citizenry is allotment of the all-around action space. In the past, America benefited from its favorable cartography with affable neighbors to the arctic and south and ample oceans to our east and west as accustomed barriers. Today, we no best adore this safe anchorage as a aftereffect of new technologies and weapons that can ability the affection of America with little or no warning.”

Touting its “dual-use attributes and able-bodied attendance in 2,600 [U.S.] communities,” the certificate assures its readers that the Guard is actuality — in fact, aloof about everywhere — to assure us from the “[p]roliferation of nuclear, biological, and actinic weapons, and high-yield atomic devices” that “has added the blackmail of a weapons of accumulation destruction… advance on the United States.”

In the spirit of actuality everywhere, it alike dispatched 2,200 troops to the U.S.-Mexico bound backward aftermost year, in acknowledgment to Admiral Donald Trump’s many election-time warnings about the access of a band of atrocious refugees and asylum-seekers from Central America. As far aback as April 2018, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis accustomed the deployment of up to 4,000 associates of the Civic Guard, to breach there at atomic through August 2019 — in accession to the approved Army troops whose antecedent 45-day deployment has already been extended twice. In fact, at the end of January, Trump defended the accepted deployment this ages of yet addition 3,500 approved troops “to stop the attempted Aggression of Illegals, through ample Caravans, into our Country.”

 S.C. Army Civic Guard soldiers accommodate aerial abutment to the U.S. Department of Citizenry Security, Rio Grande valley, Texas, 2018. (U.S. Army Civic Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Roberto Di Giovine)

Working accordingly with the U.S. Bound Patrol, Guard associates are not deployed to badge the bound directly, but affianced in a array of activities including stringing concertina wire, reviewing intelligence, and aerial helicopter surveillance missions.

Dual Use, Bifold Authority?

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Who commands the Civic Guard? That’s a complicated question. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution accustomed then-existing accompaniment militias and gave Congress the ability to alarm them out “to assassinate the laws of the Union, abolish insurrections and repel invasions.” From the beginning, those militias (which, with the access of federal legislation in 1903, became the Civic Guard) were beneath the bifold ascendancy of the federal and accompaniment governments. Congress was additionally accustomed the ability “to accommodate for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for administering such allotment of them as may be active in the account of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the arrangement of the officers, and the ascendancy of training the militia according to the conduct assigned by Congress…”

Except aback a accompaniment Guard has been “federalized” (called up by Congress or the president), anniversary governor serves as the commander-in-chief of his or her state’s units. Aback they are federalized, however, the admiral is their commander-in-chief.

The 1878 Posse Comitatus Act forbids the use of Army troops for law administration purposes central the United States (except for suppressing insurrections). Federal legislation in 1956 broadcast the Act to awning the Air Force, while Department of Defense regulations additionally forbid the use of the Navy and Marines (but not the Coast Guard) for calm policing.

The Civic Guard, on the added hand, is beneath no such prohibition and so its troops accept generally been deployed in acknowledgment to contest central this country. An analogy of the Guard’s bifold (and, in this case, dueling) command anatomy occurred in 1957, aback nine atramentous acceptance attempted to accommodate Central High Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas. Governor Orval Faubus alleged out the Arkansas Guard to “preserve the peace” by preventing the acceptance from entering the school. In response, Admiral Dwight Eisenhower federalized the aforementioned armament and ordered them (along with soldiers from the Army’s 101st Aerial Division) to abetment in the affiliation of Central High. (As the alone “insurrection” in Little Rock again was the governor’s bounce of the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision declaring accessible academy allegory unconstitutional, it’s absolutely accessible that the use of approved Army troops abandoned the Posse Comitatus Act.)

Soldiers from the 101st Aerial Analysis escort the Little Rock Nine acceptance into the all-white Central High Academy in Little Rock, Ark., 1957. (Wikimedia)

Eisenhower’s successor, John F. Kennedy, beatific the Guard to Birmingham to baby-sit the affiliation of the University of Alabama and that state’s accessible schools (over the objections of then-Gov. George Wallace). In 1967, both the Civic Guard and federal troops were beatific to Detroit at the appeal of Ambassador Jerome Cavanagh to put bottomward an burghal coup there.

After the annihilation of Martin Luther King Jr., Admiral Lyndon Johnson again ordered units in to annihilate riots in Chicago, Baltimore, and my hometown, Washington, D.C. I bethink advancing bottomward my advanced accomplish one black in April 1968 to be met by a pale, uniformed boy of about 18, who actively warned me not to airing about in my calm, abounding neighborhood, because of the crisis airish by “those people” from downtown. I’m abashed I laughed at him. My mother was dating one of those bodies and that black she was allowance administer aliment in those actual burghal neighborhoods, area grocery food were bankrupt and a cloak of smoke abashed in the air.

From Protecting the Abutment to Busting Unions

President Richard Nixon sent the Civic Guard into New York Burghal in 1970 to try to breach a postal workers’ strike. The Guardsmen may accept been acceptable soldiers, but they angry out to be beneath than able letter carriers, so the postal abutment got the accession it was demanding.

That bang was hardly the aboriginal time that the Civic Guard had been beatific in to put bottomward activity actions. Sadly, there’s a continued history in which it’s acted on account of affluent companies adjoin arresting workers. During an 1892 steelworkers’ bang in Homestead, Pennsylvania, for instance, the governor brought in the accompaniment militia to dislodge strikers application a animate bulb that belonged to the Carnegie Corporation and advice breach the strike.

In 1894, the Illinois Civic Guard had a duke in putting bottomward a civic bang by railroad workers organized by the American Railroad Union. In 1914, the Civic Guard accursed apparatus accoutrements into a covering burghal of arresting miners and their families in Ludlow, Colorado, killing added than 20 people. The mining aggregation belonged to John D. Rockefeller Jr.

In added contempo years, Guard associates accept been acclimated beneath as agitated strikebreakers than as scabs, replacing arresting workers, abnormally in public-sector jobs. A 1982 study, for example, begin that, over the antecedent decade, assorted units were alleged in 45 times to alter burghal or accompaniment employees, bastille guards, brainy bloom workers, association alteration workers, and — infamously — under President Ronald Reagan, air cartage controllers.

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In 2011, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker threatened to accompany in the Civic Guard if accessible account workers went on strike. The Green Bay Packers football aggregation responded with this statement:

“As a about endemic aggregation we wouldn’t accept been able to win the Super Bowl after the abutment of our fans. It is the aforementioned adherence of our accessible workers every day that makes Wisconsin run. They are the teachers, nurses and adolescent affliction workers who booty affliction of us and our families. But now in an aberrant political advance Governor Walker is aggravating to booty abroad their appropriate to accept a articulation and arrangement at work. 

“The appropriate to accommodate accomplishment and allowances is a axiological basement of our average class. Aback workers accompany calm it serves as a analysis on accumulated ability and helps ALL workers by adopting association standards.”

Now that’s solidarity. And lest you anticipate states accept accustomed up application the Guard as strikebreakers, as afresh as aftermost September, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder threatened to accompany them in aback a abundant accessories engineers’ bang delayed artery construction.

The Civic Guard in the Age of Trump

God advice us all if Donald Trump abstracts out that he’s absolutely the commander-in-chief of a force that, clashing the U.S. military, can accurately be deployed for law administration purposes central the United States itself. He charcoal a flailing, declining president, with the affection of an absolutist who, from the alpha of his time in office, has conflated the aegis of the country with the aegis of Donald J. Trump and his obsessions. While I don’t apprehend him to alarm out the Civic Guard to put bottomward anti-Trump demonstrations any time soon, I didn’t apprehend him to be adopted admiral either.

He’s already beatific the Civic Guard to the bound to assure the country from a bogus aggression threat. Once he gets the abstraction that the admiral can activate the Guard and accelerate them anywhere, who knows how an added active admiral ability adjudge to use them?

My adolescent acquaintance was initially abashed to acquaint me that she was because abutting the Civic Guard. She knows what her “auntie” thinks about U.S. aggressive interventions beyond the Greater Average East and genitalia of Africa, not to acknowledgment the accompanying militarization of our apple and ability actuality in the United States.

She doesn’t, in fact, disagree with me about such matters, but she hopes that she can use the aggressive after actuality absolutely acclimated by it. I’ve told her I abutment whatever her accommodation may be. She needs the money for herself and her ancestors — and she’s done her research. She’s talked to added than 20 bodies who accept abutting the Civic Guard’s Apple Chic Amateur Program. She knows that her accompaniment Guard is not amid those that accept accustomed cardinal accompaniment partnerships with backbreaking governments in places like Honduras, Azerbaijan, or the Philippines. But she additionally knows, as she said to me, that “it’s the military. They can do what they appetite with you.”

I aloof achievement that I never accept to face her, or addition like her, beyond a barricade.

Rebecca Gordon, a TomDispatch regular, teaches at the University of San Francisco. She is the columnist of “American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes.” Her antecedent books include “Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States” and “Letters from Nicaragua.”

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Tags: 1878 Posse Comitatus Act Afghanistan consistently war Iraq Civic Guard accustomed disasters Rebecca Gordon Syria

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