LPC Marksmanship*

By Robert Bateman

The United States Army seems to have a nearly limitless capacity to screw things up by the numbers. We do a lot of things well, even under the most trying conditions imaginable. But it might be fair to say that just behind our ability to shoot the enemy ranks our skill at shooting ourselves in the foot. And even when our mistakes are honest and minor, they seem to find their way into the news.

A reader recently sent me a link to a Columbia Journalism Review story about two photos that had been retracted by the Associated Press. Each photo showed one of two sergeants recently killed in Iraq in what appears to have been a case of fragging by a subordinate. The problem, noted by an alert editor at a newspaper in Texas, was that except for the faces and the nametags, the two images were completely identical. They had been Photoshopped. And since the AP had gotten the photos from an Army public affairs officer at Fort Stewart, Georgia, it appeared the Army was at fault.

The blogosphere exploded into an orgy of conspiracy theorizing. Typical comments on the normally staid CJR site included gems such as: "With it now clear to virtually everyone that the U.S. government is entirely owned and operated by compulsive liars, I'm not clear why any self-respecting news organization would ever again accept press releases, comments, recordings, videos, or photos from anyone on the federal payroll." And by another reader: "Probably a military adviser soldier that got killed in the Russian/Georgia conflict and now that he is dead they need to put on the official list as dead but can't release the soldiers true picture otherwise the Ruskies might match the body up."

My own correspondent, at least, was more measured. He wrote to me (used with permission):

[This article] caught my attention because of my recent last email to you where I spoke about "lying," both governmental and military and why academia often mistrusts individuals like you who try and bridge the gap of mistrust between academia and the military.

It's a small thing in itself. It's a very short retraction story by the AP of two photos of two young men killed in Iraq. The photos, or at least one of them had been Photoshopped. I don't understand this. I can surmise a number of scenarios of why they might like to but I can't understand actually going to the trouble to do so. This was a deliberate act of deception.

Since I was curious, I tried to dig to the bottom of this one. (As I have said before, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a public affairs officer or in any way related to anything even remotely associated with that stuff. But I did used to date a PAO, and have several friends who are PAOs now. So I went to the source and asked what happened.) Here, then, is the story.

It turns out that the Photoshopped photos were not produced by "Big A" Army, by which I mean the institutional Army and the public affairs office at Fort Stewart. They were made by the unit inside Iraq, apparently the battalion, expressly for the memorial service at their forward operating base. It seems that they did not have a nice photo of one of the sergeants. And so a soldier (probably an infantry sergeant, not a graphics artist) jimmied up semi-official-looking images using what the squad had on-hand.

It was those photos that got e-mailed back to the unit's home base at Fort Stewart. I'm not clear on how that happened, so this next part is informed speculation, but it seems to have been informal. Probably the two images traveled from the forward deployed unit to their own "rear detachment," the small group every battalion leaves behind to take care of things at the home station. And probably the public affairs people asked, "Hey, you have some photos? The media want whatever we got." The Rear-D soldiers, not being aware of the origins of the images, sent them on, and the public affairs office, also not knowing the origins and provenance of the photos, released them to the media.

It's still boneheaded, but more along the lines of typos. I was ready to blame the public affairs office for this, but as it was apparently just some poor infantry sergeant trying to make something to commemorate his peers, INSIDE the unit, no, I'm not excited about this now.

* "LPC" is Leather Personnel Carrier. In other words, your boot. It's a self-deprecatory term used in the light infantry to contrast with those others who move about the battlefield in Armored Personnel Carriers, aka APC's.

By Marisa Katz |  September 25, 2008; 12:00 AM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

So evidently the media has never made any mistakes? The media has never had to retract an article? The media and academia are lilly white in the application of truth in reporting and journalism?
I am so sick of the Media and the so called academic experts. All they do is throw stones yet are unwilling to give constructive suggestions other than general shotgun blasts about how "sorry" the Army is.
I thought the reporting of information was suppossed to include a thorough investigative process? evidently that principle does not apply to the media

Terry Tucker, PhD

Posted by: Terry.Tucker | September 25, 2008 2:48 AM

On second thought this reminds me of a bit of Infantry sarcasim; the kind that is so apropos to this situation.... "If one standard is good, then many standards must be better"

Posted by: Terry.Tucker | September 25, 2008 2:55 AM

While we can agree that if your story above is true that this is not a biggie, it shows a tendency, doesnt it? Consider something much more serious, like the bombing incident in Afghanistan where the military adamantly stuck by its story for weeks while one after another source went against, until suddenly the ROE got changed and the SecDef himself had to publicly apologize to the afghanis. There has been so many instances of flat out denials turning out to be lies, and also so many examples of cyber-propaganda through outlets like Blackfive and others that for the sceptical reader, the first question that pops into mind is: Why should I believe Robert Bateman isnt part of the coverup and under order to provide inteligent cover for the armys screwups as well?

Or to put it another way, why didnt some rapid response team put out this story through official channels the very second the photo-manipulation got detected, complete with an apology? It seems many times that the US armed forces have a almost pathological inability to admit & rectify mistakes. In cases like this its not serious. In Afghanistan and the hearts and minds struggle its a basic flaw.

Posted by: fnord | September 25, 2008 4:12 AM

fnord, I think you're on to something which was actually a sub-theme in my head as I wrote this. The Army didn't "get out there" and explain things because, well, the Army is still really incompetent at these things. A de facto "press release" (even if it's a clarification about another, earlier, press release) at that level has to be vetted. This non-story broke on a Friday evening, so nobody was around. When it wasn't picked up by any major media outlets (newspapers or tv), the powers that be in the Army PAO system seem to have decided, "eh, whatever, it'll go away." In so doing they are effectively saying that they don't consider the blogosphere relevent. (Because it's so "unimportant.") There is, to my knowledge, no PAO or other system in place to deal with stuff like this on the net.

Posted by: Bob Bateman | September 25, 2008 5:12 AM

Never chalk up to conspiracy what can be more readily explained by incompetence, especially institutional incompetence. Once again the axiom applies.

Posted by: Bill Cooper | September 25, 2008 8:43 AM

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a retired RAF officer in our corporation's London offices some years ago. He commented that there are basically two theories of history: Conspiracy and Cock-Up; and that most of the former actually turn out to be the latter.

Posted by: John Shepherd | September 25, 2008 9:08 AM

Ahhh shoot, I also meant to respond to this line by fnord: "There has been so many instances of flat out denials turning out to be lies, and also so many examples of cyber-propaganda through outlets like Blackfive and others that for the sceptical reader, the first question that pops into mind is: Why should I believe Robert Bateman isnt part of the coverup and under order to provide inteligent cover for the armys screwups as well?"

I'll answer that the way that I always do...we're just not that competent.

Seriously. Since I started writing in more public forums (for Altercation at MSNBC.COM, and then later for the CCJ, etc) various people have speculated that I am either A.) Not actually a real person, but rather a consortium of four or five Madison Avenue types hired and housed in the basement of the Pentagon. B.) A Real Person, but a plant, crafted by some Rovian genius in the Public Affairs community. C.) (A split) Either a plant by communists/liberals in the pay of George Soros or a plant by neocons/conservatives in the pay of T.Boone Pickens. In any event, my response is always the same as it is here. We're just not, collectively, all that sharp. The institutional Army (or DoD) could never act fast enough to "approve" of what I say/write on my own behalf in any manner timely enough to actually matter. Our lack of ability in so many other things is actually my best supporting evidence, sadly.

Posted by: Bob Bateman | September 25, 2008 12:36 PM

LTC Bateman,

You raise a number of important issues that those unfamiliar with the Army should be aware of, namely, our hopelessly inept PAO structure (the worst in DoD).

None of this surprises me - especially after watching the "slow motion trainwrecks" perpetrated by Army PAOs during the Scott Beauchamp/New Republic affair; the Pentagon "media analyst" story; and the COL Steve Boylan v. Glenn Greenwald "celebrity death match".

Where to begin? First, I strongly believe that of all the services, the Army has the weakest uniformed PAO team. Why? Unlike the Marines, Navy and Air Force, "Public Affairs Officer" is not an initial entry officer specialty. The Army gets its PAOs after 7-8 years of service in other areas. This is problematic for several reasons:

1. By not advertising PAO opportunities up front (like the other services do) you do not attract to ROTC or OCS those individuals that would be inclined to serve as officers in that capacity. There is no way to progressively "groom" future Army PAOs because they don't even know who's going to even be one until they have already completed their initial Active Duty Servce Obligation. So, when the Army Captain reports for his first day as a "PAO", his Navy and Marine peers already have 6-8 progressive years of PAO experience.

2. By making PAO something that an officer does after already surviving 6-8 years of doing something else for the Army, a perverse crucible is set up. If you want to be a PAO, then you must survive 6+ years as an Artilleryman, Maintenance officer or Aviator. Again, many of those officers best suited for PAO duty will self-select out of the Army after their initial 3,4 or 5 year service obligation is done. This impacts quality.

3. The "quality" issue is threefold: 1) no front end PAO accessions; 2) a grueling crucible of doing other "Army Stuff"; and 3) the low perception of the PAO career field by those officers that stay in the Army. It's no secret that the Army is hurting for officers. Major has become virtually an automatic promotion and despite these sky-high promotion rates, the Army still is only at 87% strength on Majors in the aggregate and ~73% fill on MI Majors and ~48% fill on Transportation MAJs specifically. What does this mean? It means that those charismatic officers who are good communicators and that would make great PAOs are also many of the same folks that would make excellent operational commanders. After surviving 6-8 years of service and excelling as a company commander, it is a rare high-performing officer who would voluntarily leave the operational community and choose to be a PAO. While the PAO community does get some top flight officers to be sure, it also gets a healthy dose of marginal performers of middling ability. This, BTW, is happening in many Army communities. Most notably, the Aquisition Corps.

Considering this 24-7 media environment and recognizing the large number of PAO-inflicted black eyes in OIF and OEF, the Army needs to make PAO its own career track from the first day of commissioned service. We cannot afford the current system where the Army PAO officer leadership is "tail end Charlie" within the DoD in terms of experience, skills and credibility. This PAO track could be part of the Adjutant Generals Corps (AG). As a moderator at www.armyocs.com, I see every week a number of talented 20 and 30-somethings who WANT to be Army PAOs. After learning that they would have to serve 6-8 years doing something else before using their God-given talents and experience to our nation, most disappear forever and the Army never gets their service.

There is something to be learned from past experience here.

In closing, I've read several hundred pages of the FOIA'd documents from the Pentagon-Media imbrogolio. Many of these e-mails were doenright embarrassing and several PAOs crossed the line into political messaging.

Posted by: IRR Soldier... | September 25, 2008 1:29 PM

One More Thing ...

The crux of this story surrounds photos of deceased NCOs.

I think the Army needs to get its act together (like the USMC) and standardize mandatory, predeployment photos for all soldiers in their Class As. For some, this may be the last portrait their family ever has of them.

Some Brigades (on their own accord) have started doing this. The 4th BDE, 25th ID and the 82nd come to mind. Leave the rumpled ACUs out of a what may possibly a soldier's last photo home - the one that may appear in prient media or even an MOH plaque/citation. If we are asking young troopers to possibly give their last full measure, we owe them (and their families) at least a photo with their unit patch, branch insignia and awards.

Posted by: IRR Soldier ... | September 25, 2008 2:02 PM

Bob, you're going to need to tell me the PAO with whom you dated. I want to dangle that tidbit to blackmail her for information.

Your explanation, however, seems spot on. It might be a sin against journalism, but it's not necessarily an intentional one. While the origins of the photos might remain with the battalion, Big Army's PAOs should have contacted AP (and now, I guess, San Antonio and CJR) to explain how the problem arrived at their doorsteps.

I'm also at a bit of a loss. Anyone's Geneva Conventions ID card contains an image that's retained in a central DoD database. While battalions also take photos before deployment (typically with a flag backdrop), does not DOD's PAO system have access to the ID database to pull images for obits, etc?

Posted by: Carl Prine | September 25, 2008 2:38 PM

Ah, the irony, as we discuss this you have closed down the comments section so that one needs to give away ones email, so ensuring that enlisted men in position cannot contribute anonymously. lol.

Anyway, sir, to your points: There is a lot of issues to be raised by the US (and for that sake, the norwegian) way of doing IO. I agree again with you that this example is no big issue, but check out Greenwalds column today commenting the Army times (http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/09/army_homeland_090708w/) news that a active duty combat brigade is for the first time since the civil war to be on duty in the US homelands. Part of their mission is to "assist with crowd control". This generates a huge amount of paranoia and typecasts the army in the role of a tool, because the explanation is all about can-do spirit and no explanation of why the US army is no getting ready to "..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."

WHAT? So the US army is now getting ready to suport riotpolice and use techniques learned in Iraq on US civilians, and they are bragging about it? What sort of information operation is this? The tone of the Army Times is positively gleeful ("“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.
.”) and it sounds like the guys just cant wait to have a go at them hippies. Is this the image of the new model US army?

This whole macho posturing has been a trademark of this administration and of certain parts of the military, from the "Bring em on" and "Lets Roll" and "Axis of Evil" and downwards. This, combined with the previously mentioned tendency towards infallability isnt just incompetence sir, it seems like a cultural problem, like a problem born out of a warrior culture where reflection equals weakness and the civilians equals the enemy. Take the whining about the press, par example, or the whole Blackfive way of posturing. I think it goes deeper than just a bit of incompetence sir. With all due respect for the good soldiers of the US army.

Posted by: fnord1 | September 25, 2008 4:32 PM


Thanks for commenting on this. Your initial take is very close to mine. The important thing about this is that like the new, "warrior culture" and similar messaging, this is fundamentally an attempt to redefine the military's relationship to society. I can not stress the long-term danger in this. Although the military has come to the "rescue" over the past 100 years in the US (e.g. Katrina, Little Rock-1957, the 10th Mountain in Hurricane Andrew), these were ad hoc, as needed deployments. There was not an expectation on the part of soldiers upon enlistment that they would be put on a habitual "ready cycle" for domestic employment. This goes so beyond the "PR spin" that this is just a stanby force for things like "Katrina II."

You are correctly concerned about the "glee" expressed by some in uniform who are quoted in that piece. There is now an expectation and regular training centered on the eventuality of Regular Army soldiers "bashing heads." This is why I have such a problem with "warrior" messaging. It takes new soldiers and officers - tabulae rasa - and acculturates them to a way of viewing civil society and contributes to a new ethos that conflates Orwell's "rough men" quote with the proper role.

This is a dangerous road and one that should be thoughtfully considered. It alters the expectations of military service and reinforces a view in the citizenry that its soldiers are "the other." The ACCU 24/7/365 and "warrior ethos" were atarts, but this moves the ball way beyond those efforts.

Posted by: IRRSoldier | September 25, 2008 4:52 PM

IRR, you bring up a very good point about the career track for Army PAOs. Making it a real career track versus a second career track is a good one that would promote professionalism among PAOs. However, that is not the whole story. After all, many officers in CS and CSS branches start their careers in a "branch detail" to infantry or armor, including MI, transportation, AG, to name a few. Those officers who are detailed are no less professional or competent than those few who start their careers in their assigned branch. In some ways, these officers have a better view of where their specialty fits in the big picture.

I think that the real problem is that the Army as an institution would rather hold the press at arms length, and kind of see the press as an enemy. Instead of seeing the role of the PAO as a way to tell a story from the service's perspective, the Army uses the PAO as an obstacle to reporters trying to report. What the Army (by this I mean many commanders to whom the PAOs are responsible--commanders at all levels) seems to forget is that a reporter is going to report the story regardless of whether the Army gives them any help. Wouldn't it be much better to actually assist reporters, helping them to understand the details of a story, only withholding information that might be of a secure nature? Wouldn't it be better to develop relationships with the media so that they trust the PAOs to tell them the truth? Maybe that has something to do with the quality of PAOs but I think it has more to do with the attitudes of the commanders to which the PAOs answer. Frankly, I am not sure the other services are a whole lot better or more sophisticated in how they handle the media (except maybe the Air Force -- they are great at marketing themselves).

As for the story about how 1 BDE 3ID is spending its dwell time, that is disturbing. I can see how it is useful to have units that are ready to provide CSS assets -- hospitals, engineers, water purification, etc. -- in case of a disaster. But the fact that we have a combat brigade training for "crowd control" or whatever is a little frightening. There might be a few legal impediments to their use, for one thing. Besides which, isn't that what the National Guard is for? Oh right, they doon't have any equipment since they left it all in Iraq and nobody wants to buy them any more -- too expensive.

Seems like we are in a bit of a pickle...

Posted by: DMAXWELL2 | September 25, 2008 7:03 PM

Fnord said:

"Ah, the irony, as we discuss this you have closed down the comments section so that one needs to give away ones email, so ensuring that enlisted men in position cannot contribute anonymously. lol."

Enlisted men in position?...that would be a bohica position, I take it, for none on such fora are exactly fishing for their comments.

It does bring back memories of the Intel Dump of old, where one could have their e-mails addresses tied into their on screen "Noms de Guerre." Alternately, you had characters tying in their screen names to non existent e-mail accounts (MSR, a well known, anonymous officer who blogs in another locale nowadays...a locale you frequent fnord).

I digress, as far as e-mail confirmation goes, nothing beats SST's Col. Lang's tool set of IP tracing goodies to ferret out agitators.

On the subject of this post, and its highlighting this brigade's assignment to NORTHCOM; I see no immediate danger. Unless this force is enhanced with sizable numbers. Perhaps this will go the way of CIFA (Counter-Intelligence Field Activity..another once NORTHCOM asset) and their data mining adventures against the Quaker threat (This would not stand if Milhous were still around).

Fnord, what peasants with pitchforks are going to spring forth from the earth, mushroom-like, to form a self actualized levée en masse against the present authorities? You are a Euro, and as such, have 1st hand familiarity with street demonstrations, labor disputes and the like. All peoples of the earth, save Americans, like to take it to the streets. If you exclude past race riots (Largely in Black locales), there have been few violent (by the local peasants) encounters with Police/Army since the castration of the union movement in this country.

For all the talk of the Scots/Irish fightin' spirit that is touted as being bottled up within the American psyche, I see no signs of any pressure building activity from the besotted consumerists over here. Imagine if the rest of the world's tired masses had just lost a fair chunk of savings through no fault of their own.

Then figure that: the lack of brain wave activity in the Pleistocene, oxygen thieving, drooling microcephallic community is not a good sign for the potentialities of "organized" resistance from that sub segment (sub not being an idle prefix here) of the populace, should they become more deprived through benign neglect.

I would like to be wrong on this, but the lack of demonstrable anger about, given the last eight years, leads me to no other conclusion. Have a drink Fnord! you and Herr Seidlitz, and Al (the aviator) are good to go where you are...and when you do, Have one on me.

Posted by: fasteddiez | September 25, 2008 7:39 PM

Well, I used to be plain old "Publius," but now it seems there were twelve ahead of me. Never seen another one here, but per the WAPO I am now Publius13. Oh, well.

I accept the explanations as to what happened here in this PR faux pas. It happens. And I don't attribute any nefarious motives to the Army in this instance. But I'll tell you, after more than 40 years of being around the U.S. Army, it's clear to me that PR and otherwise interacting with the outside world is not the Army's strong point.

IRR, who's far better informed than me, makes some telling points I had never really thought about in discussing the Army's PAO career field. We've all seen the shortfalls, but I'll bet, most like me, didn't really know how and why this could happen. Why does the Army do it this way? When the other services don't? What's up with that? Maybe Colonel Bateman can shed some light on that.

I'm going to provide some personal observations over the past 2+ years, ever since I moved to the Hilton Head, SC, area, from the SF Bay area, where I had little interface with the active military. Here, I've got lots, mostly with Marines. I'm close to Parris Island, the major USMC recruit training facility, and about the same distance from the Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, a TO&E installation. I get to Parris Island a couple of times a week, usually to play golf (very good course, BTW) or go to the commissary. When I drive in that gate, a very sharp looking Marine renders me an impeccable salute and bellows out, "have a nice day, sir." I get the same thing at the air station. I've also almost wrecked a couple of times, when a DI, out with his recruits, has saluted me as I've driven by his formation.

Then I go down the road to the Naval Hospital, Beaufort, where a very sharp petty officer or seaman salutes and welcomes me to the base. Air Force? I get down to the Tampa area periodically and visit McDill AFB, home of CENTCOM and USSOCOM. At the gate, I interface with an airman, also sharp and alert, who welcomes me. Finally, I go to Fort Stewart, home of the Army's 3d Infantry Division, or to its adjunct, Hunter Army Airfield, in Savannah, where I encounter a 300-lb civilian security guard who grunts and mumbles as he checks my ID. WRT Fort Stewart, my wife and I once made the mistake of getting lunch at the snack bar next to the PX. It was filthy, trashcans overflowing, crap all over the floor. One wonders how the commanding general tolerates it.

This PR stuff is important. Nobody cares about me, the old retired dude, but, you know, lots of civilians see these things. Speaking of civilians, you should see how the Marines at Parris Island treat the families of the boots graduating. Those folks from middle America are royalty for the two days they're there to see their Marine graduate. They walk away thinking those Marine guys are all right.

ISTM the Army just doesn't get it. When it comes to PR, they are outliers in the military establishment. From the wear of ACUs at inappropriate times to the inept TV commercials (Army of One?), to the way that the public sees the service on a daily basis, it's clear that sending a positive message to greater America enjoys a relatively low priority.

Are the other services perfect? Absolutely not. I just saw a startling statistic. Seems 50% of first-term Marines do not reenlist. That's a terrible churn rate, which may be why the USMC works so hard at the PR game. Maybe the Army doesn't have to worry about attracting new people, eh? Well, of course, we know they have to. I've always said the Army was the best of the services when it came to career opportunities for young people, and I haven't changed my mind. I just wish they'd work a little harder at getting the word out to civilian land.

Posted by: Publius13 | September 25, 2008 8:57 PM

lol, this is the closest to a blog-reunion Ive ever been.

However, to the points: My use of this example was somewhat political, but at the same time it seems to me to exemplify a lot of what has gone wrong with the whole relationship between army and state in the US, from top to bottom. It seems that there is a sharp move away from the concept of "citizens army", for and by the citizens, manned by soldiers, and into a roman legion model where the legions are tools for the ruling elite, the owners of privilegium (private law). The post 9/11 climate seems to have changed a lot of laws fundamentally, from such issues as the legalization of torture (we dont hear much of that these days) and the concept of the executive privilege being above the Law down to details such as Public affairs, where the public is being treated on a strict need-to-know basis (and usually what the public needs to know is that everything is going fine, thank you, very fine). Your congress and Senate seems to have been taken out of the loop altogether, and politics in foreign affairs is now between various branches of the executive arm, with the generals seeming to be the voice of moderation. By stoking up the fearlevel in the US population, it seems that this has gained wide acceptance and in many cases there seems to be tendencies to the building of a police-state ("If youre not doing anything wrong, you got nuthin to fear" as a ratio.)

Wich leads to your point, fasteddiez: You seem to forget the period before 9/11 and the defining moment of my generation, the spirit of Seattle. Since that was the campaign where I myself got my "battlehonours" (Gothenburg, Prague, Genova) from the wrong side of the fence, you can be quite sure that the preferred punchingballs will be my often confused friends on the far far left: Anarchists and militant tree-huggers. And when the push comes in, labour unions and peaceloving grannies as well. We saw all this in effect during the republican convention this year, with swat-teams and military exercising on vegan free-food people and left-leaning grassroots press. I am expecting a veritable diaspora of american oppositional folks over here.

To tie this back to the original thread: As above, so below, and if this is the profile we see in the west, imagine how it must read to the good folks of the occupied territories. When the US issues a flat denial of facts that even our puppetgovernment acknowledges like in Afghanistan, how does it expect to retain legitimacy in the eyes of the subjects? When US criminals can steal and overcharge and shoot up civilians without getting any consequence, as seen in Iraq, what message is the US army sending? The example cited by mr. Bateman above, and its following paranoia, is a symptom that the trust in the US forces is at a low ebb, that the armed forces have become a part of the cultural wars. And that aint good.

Posted by: fnord1 | September 26, 2008 12:49 AM

I saw the Army Times article several days ago and i couldn't get it to gel with The Posse Comitatus Act. This act of 1878 restricts the use of Military Forces on US soil. In 2006 President Bush had the Act amended to allow the use of members of the uniformed services to operate in a military capacity within the US. In 2008 however the amended Act was amended again BACK to the original wording of the 1878 Act. Please correct me if i'm wrong but the basic intent of the original act was to prevent the American military from ever having to fire on American citizens. If the Posse Comitatus Act is now back to its original wording how can an active US Army Brigade function as stated in the article on US soil in any form.....disaster or civil?

Posted by: OllieD | September 26, 2008 2:22 AM

Minor Correction
Please ignore US soil and change to non-Federal property. In 1932 President Hoover used the US Army against the Bonus Army march on Washington DC. The Posse Comitatus Act did not apply because Washington is a Federal District governed by the US Congress.

Posted by: OllieD | September 26, 2008 2:41 AM


It seems that there are a lot of non-natives bussed in for these protests in the US. Some might even say that there are protest professionals who go on these protest circuits.

FastEddiez is probably right that Americans, in general, are not angry enough to take to the streets. Only a tiny minority enjoy the "Street Theater", as they say. Certainly the street theater severely interrupts the working and shopping for everyone else during the protest and its aftermath.

Posted by: jimmbswu | September 26, 2008 12:06 PM

Great thread. Liked Robert Bateman's comments, then IIRsoldier's response which brought up so many good points. Of course the usual astute comments from Publius, Fasteddiez and fnord . . .

What to add? Transmitting the Army's message would be a whole lot easier if the political policies behind our military commitments made some sense.

Fasteddiez - Having a nice glass of Portuguese red wine at the moment. . .

Posted by: seydlitz89 | September 26, 2008 5:42 PM

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