“if Barr—or Trump, Cotton, or anyone else—think active duty military played an important role in restoring order to Los Angeles, they’re misremembering history. In fact, the L.A. riots offer cautionary lessons about the limits and perils of using military force to restore order and protect lawful protest. Although the National Guard played a critical role in restoring and keeping the peace, the same can’t be said for active-duty Marines and soldiers.”
“The arrival of the guard was desperately anticipated in Los Angeles, where looting and fires spread overnight and left the city smoldering by daybreak on April 30. That morning, I waited outside the Los Angeles Coliseum, where guard units had deployed. But even as the day heated up, the guard troops remained frustratingly cabined inside their armories.
The trouble: Guard soldiers had made it to Los Angeles overnight, but devices to convert their automatic weapons into semiautomatics had not. When he learned of the holdup, Wilson ordered the guard soldiers to hit the streets with one bullet each, and by late afternoon, about 24 hours after violence first erupted, the guard finally began deploying from Exposition Park, home of the Coliseum.
One guardsman marched across the street to where I was standing, and as he and I took in the scene, a man pulled up in his pickup truck and began videotaping the melee. A rioter casually walked over, shot the man in the arm and grabbed his camera. Spotting the guard soldier, the shooter fled; the victim lived.
By the time guard units were fully at work, more than 25 people had died, nearly 600 were wounded and roughly 1,000 fires were burning or had burned.
The guard units were applauded, sometimes literally, as they made their way to ravaged sections of the city. I watched looters thumb their noses at police and then, moments later, melt away when they spotted guard soldiers rolling up to the scene; something about the military’s presence was both intimidating and soothing. In neighborhood after neighborhood, the arrival of the guard meant the diminishment of violence. “They were reassuring to the people who wanted their presence,” Wilson said.”
“But by the time soldiers and Marines were in position, the violence was already subsiding, so their mission was muddied from the start: Authorized to “restore law and order,” they were not empowered to “maintain law and order.” Some military leaders concluded that their authorization thus was no longer valid.”
“In some cases, the cultures and practices of police and soldiers clashed, with dangerous implications. When one pair of LAPD officers, for instance, was preparing to enter a home in response to a report of a domestic dispute, the officers were accompanied by a contingent of Marines. The Marines held back as the officers approached the front door and were greeted with a blast of birdshot. The officers dropped to the ground and one called out, “cover me,” thinking the Marines would point their weapons at the house and be alert for any additional threat. Instead, the Marines opened fire, pummeling the home and its occupants, which included children, with more than 200 rounds. Amazingly, no one was hurt.”
“The Los Angeles riots were extraordinarily violent, but mercifully short-lived, in large measure because of the decisive actions taken by Wilson. They do not, however, stand for the principle that active duty military are the most effective means of suppressing urban violence. In Los Angeles, police and local leadership failed at the outset, to be rescued by state coordination and the National Guard. The Army and Marines came too late to make a difference but just in time to sow confusion and concern.
The history in Los Angeles suggests that solid coordination between the state and federal governments, along with decisive use of the National Guard, can save lives and protect property. It argues against employment of active-duty forces, certainly without consultation and consent of the states. In the current crisis”
“Keep in mind that the current protests and related riots were sparked by the abusive and murderous actions of police officers who are (allegedly) trained to protect the communities in which they live and the public that they serve. It’s difficult to see how the situation is going to be improved by the addition of troops more often trained to kill people and break things—especially when they’re handed weapons and pointed toward antagonists.
“U.S. soldiers are trained for combat against a foreign enemy, not for riot control against Americans,” the Wall Street Journal editorial page warns. “The risk of mistakes would be high, and Mr. Trump would be blamed for any bloodshed from civilian clashes with troops.”
The Journal editors were recoiling not from Tom Cotton’s eagerness to escalate hostilities against American civilians, but from the president’s similar scheme. Trump, too, has proposed sending in the military to battle rioters, even over local objections.”
“it’s exactly that history of domination and imposed order, which treats members of the public as an enemy, overcriminalizes a wide variety of conduct, and disproportionately targets minority communities, that led us to this point. Deploying the military to clear the streets might disperse protesters and looters alike in the short term, but it will exacerbate the problem of authoritarian law enforcement. And that guarantees escalating tensions that, if they’re not addressed, will eventually explode into new conflict.”
“The Turkish military’s devastating display of power against the Syrian army last week — which saw the destruction of hundreds of regime tanks, artillery pieces and armored vehicles — came from a cheap but effective domestic drone program that NATO officials say has changed the military equation against Russia in Syria’s Idlib Province.
The confrontation began in late February. Syrian regime forces, backed by Russian air support and “special forces advisors”, began to push into Idlib, the last major area held by rebels against Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s regime. Syria’s civil war has lasted nearly a decade.”
“Turkey’s response was to send thousands of regular army units into Idlib to prevent the pocket’s collapse.”
“Turkey has a new ace up its sleeve, one that forced Russia to think twice about escalating against President Recep Erdogan’s government, military sources told Insider.
Turkey’s offensive was conducted with about 100 domestically produced drones launching cheap guided munitions with deadly efficiency.”
“US policies restricting sales of armed drone technology to Turkey out of concerns the technology would be used on Kurdish targets as critical to the development of a domestic program. By 2007 the Turkish military had tired of limitations on what it could buy from the Americans. Disappointed by the poor performance of Israeli drones on the market, it then began to develop their own program.”
“While Turkey guards the exact cost of producing the Bayraktar TB2 as a state secret, it sold 12 drones and three ground command centers to Ukraine last year for $69 million. At less than $6 million per drone, the TB2 is about a third of the cost of the similarly capable US produced Reaper MQ-9, which retails for US allies at about $16 million a piece.”
“the military’s own bases are very vulnerable to the effects of climate change because of rising seas and forest fires, storms, and floods.”
“After Tehran fired 16 missiles at two US military sites in Iraq earlier this month, the Trump administration repeatedly said there were no casualties. Trump, during a January 8 address at the White House, reiterated that message by saying “all of our soldiers are safe.”
Then last week, a Pentagon spokesperson admitted 11 military members sustained injuries in the Iran strikes, saying in a statement that the troops were “treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed” in Germany and Kuwait.
And then on Tuesday — almost two weeks after Trump and other officials said no one was hurt — another Defense Department spokesperson said that “additional service members have been identified as having potential injuries” and are under evaluation in Germany, too, though the exact number of troops or nature of the injuries is unclear.
While Iran didn’t kill a single US military member — as far as we know — it’s clear the human toll is much higher than the administration initially let on. Of course, it’s possible that officials didn’t notice the injuries until well after the Iran attack, as the first injuries to be identified are usually those involving visible physical wounds.”