US Government Report Argues for Police Force for American Interventions Overseas
In May 2009, the federally financed RAND Corporation published a 183-page report, “A Stability Police Force for the United States: Justification and Options for Creating US Capabilities”. The report, conducted for the US Army’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI) at the Army War College, examined the need for a “stability police force” (SPF), which it described as “a high-end police force that engages in a range of tasks such as crowd and riot control, special weapons and tactics (SWAT) and investigations of organized criminal groups.” Most soldiers do not possess the specialized skills an SPF officer needs to prevent violence, the report notes. “Most soldiers are trained to apply overwhelming force to secure victory, rather than minimal force to prevent escalation.” The SPF would also train indigenous police forces, much like what occurs today in Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to the study led by Terrence K. Kelly, a senior researcher at RAND, the United States clearly needs an SPF. “Stability operations have become an inescapable reality of US foreign policy,” the report states. The RAND report estimates that creating such a paramilitary police force would cost about $637 million annually, require about 6,000 personnel and that it should be headquartered inside the US Marshals Service (USMS), not the US Army.
“Of the options considered,” the RAND report argues, “this research indicates that the US Marshals Service would be the most likely to successfully field an SPF, under the assumptions that an [military police] option would not be permitted to conduct policing missions in the United States outside of military installations except under extraordinary circumstances and that doing so is essential to maintaining required skills.” The idea here is that members of an SPF would be a “hybrid force” and could be embedded in police and sheriff departments nationwide to retain their policing skills when not deployed overseas. When needed, a battalion-sized SPF unit could be deployed in 30 days.
This recommendation did cause a small number of libertarians to take notice of the report after it was published because of the Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids using the military for domestic policing inside the United States. Libertarian William Grigg blogged on LewRockwell.com that he feared that an SPF could be used domestically. “If ‘peacekeepers’ end up patrolling American streets, they probably won’t be foreigners in blue berets, but homegrown jackboots commanded by Washington,” Grigg wrote. Chris Calabrese, a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, was less fearful of an SPF, but he told Truthout that the report’s recommendation to headquarter “a super police force that would be deployed both foreign and domestically in the US Marshals Service” did violate the spirit of the Posse Comitatus Act.
“In essence, you have this force that would in theory be a civilian force that would be part of the US Marshal Service but they would be deployed as part of the Army and the military forces,” Calabrese said. “That would be their primary deployment purpose. Their civilian purpose would be secondary. They describe it as a training purpose. So who does this police force work for then?”
Talking to WorldNetDaily in January, Kelly did say an SPF could be deployed in the United States, although that’s not what their primary purpose is.
“If there were a major disaster like Katrina it could be deployed in the U.S. but that’s not the purpose of the research,” he said. “It’s important to point out that the goal was to create a force that’s deployable overseas. If it’s to be used in the United States it would be a secondary thing and then only in an emergency.”
The RAND Corporation would not make any of the report’s authors available for an interview. Emails to the USMS asking for a comment on the report and its recommendations also went unanswered.
Calabrese also said there are practical concerns behind such a force outside of the Posse Comitatus Act. “It’s also somewhat strange,” he said. Calabrese wonders what would happen when SPF personnel get called up from wherever they’re embedded to deploy overseas. “What happens to all the police work they’re doing domestically?” he asked.
But the RAND report has more implications for the future of US foreign policy than it does about the militarization of police inside the United States. It signals that some defense and peace intellectuals believe that the United States will continue to intervene in fragile and failing states. After listing the stability operations that the United States has participated in since the end of the cold war – Panama (1989), Somalia (1992), Haiti (1994), Bosnia (1995), Kosovo (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003)and Haiti again in 2004 – the RAND report notes this trend will continue. “There are several countries where the United States could become engaged in stability operations over the next decade, such as Cuba and Sudan,” according to the report. – Full article