“Sea-smurf”: The pronunciation for the acronym couldn’t be any cuter, but the duties of the U.S. Army’s CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force (CCMRF) could potentially be quite ugly — using military tactics, including some tested in Iraq, amid civilian populations here in the U.S.
According to a September 8 report by The Army Times, the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, acting for one year under the CCMRF moniker, will be employed domestically in homeland security-related efforts, starting October 1. Duties, the paper reports, could include assisting with “civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.”
It’s historic: Never before has an active unit has been given “a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities,” the paper reports.
While troops could be enlisted to operate the “jaws of life” for rescues following traffic wrecks or clear roadways blocked by debris, they’ll also be trained in the use of “nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.”
“It’s a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they’re fielding,” Col. Roger Cloutier of the 1st Brigade Combat Team said. “They’ve been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were consolidated and this package fielded, and because of this mission we’re undertaking we were the first to get it.”
The main role of CCMRF seems akin to what the National Guard provides: help after natural or man-made disasters and protection against domestic attack. The Army Times piece says nothing about new terror threats that might warrant the move or whether domestic military action may violate the Posse Comitatus or Insurrection acts, which restrict the use of the military for law enforcement.