Tanks in Small Towns

Thanks to many, many people who have written in about the ongoing militarization of the police, and the ramifications of police over-reaction to the Occupy movement in Davis, Berkeley, and elsewhere. Will format* and share some of these tonight or tomorrow. For the moment, here is just one, from a U.S. Army veteran:
If you liked the wheeled APC in Galax Virginia, you're gonna love the M113 with a cupola mounted .50 cal machine gun that Richland County SC picked up [ a few years ago]. 

 Note the SWAT team posing around the vehicle with submachineguns. Lovely.


As a former US Army Cavalry soldier, I have to say I am astonished and horrified that anybody in law enforcement would think that an M2 .50 cal machine gun has any place at all in a police force. It is a weapon made to destroy vehicles (like light tanks, APC's and helicopters) and unreinforced buildings. A single round can literally tear a person in half if hits him in the abdomen. It will go through your house and the house after that and then continue blithely along for another mile or more until it hits something else.

While I'm at it, here is one more -- about the way the militarization of the police perversely ignores the way the real military is evolving:

Reading about the militarization of local police forces made me think about the strategic shift to counter-insurgency operations in Iraq under the leadership of GEN Petraeus.

As commander of the 101st Airborne, GEN Petraeus saw combat for the first time during the division's drive up the Euphrates Valley, with sharp firefights in Najaf, Karbala and Hilla. But it was during the division's subsequent occupation of Mosul and northern Iraq that he won widespread acclaim by resurrecting the local economy, restoring services and preserving order with strategic force. Posters in the division bivouacs read: "What have you done to win Iraqi hearts and minds today?"

The famous "surge" in Iraq was successful because of many reasons (including financial support to western tribes) and one  was a fundamental shift in strategy from operating out of heavily fortified, centralized compounds with periodic patrols, to dispersing soldiers to smaller, more numerous locations in order to "win Iraqi hearts and minds."  An unverified account of the orders GEN Petraeus gave upon initiating the surge:

    - "Secure and serve the population.

    - Live among the people. Promote reconciliation.

    - Move mounted, work dismounted; situational awareness can only be achieved by operating face-to-face, not separated by ballistic glass.

    - Walk."

A good theme for our police leaders to keep in mind.

* This is a surprisingly tedious chore with our blogging software. As the world goes, not a big problem, but it's not a simple matter of cutting and pasting from messages. Just for the record.