Practicing for Martial Law?

| July-August 1999

The recent “invasion” of San Francisco by 6,000 U.S. military troops in Operation Urban Warrior ostensibly was designed to train our soldiers how to morph seamlessly from humanitarians to peacekeepers to warriors in a foreign land. But, as Jeff Elliott writes in the Albion Monitor (March 26, 1999), the real story behind these snappy war games is less benign: “The exercise was really designed to prepare American soldiers for fighting in places like San Francisco when they turn into places like Belfast.” Elliott points out that the British Royal Marines, veterans of the bloody “peacekeeping” in Ulster, served as advisers for the Urban Warrior adventure, demonstrating how to set up sniper positions and conceal weapons. The operation follows congressional moves in recent years that critics say blur the boundary between civilian and military law enforcement—including a Pentagon request in January to appoint a U.S. military commander to direct national emergency operations in case of a terrorist attack. And this summer President Clinton is expected to appoint a commander to oversee the new Joint Task Force for Civil Support, which will look for ways the military can help in case of a “domestic crisis.” This “creeping military involvement in civilian life,” Elliott argues, raises troubling questions about civil liberties in the years ahead.

The online magazine Albion Monitor is at

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