Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What panics Texas didn't raise an eyebrow here



     Each time I read another story about Texas officials, from the governor on down, wetting themselves because the U.S. military is conducting its usual maneuvers there—or the latest, jaw-dropping poll suggesting that one-third of Republicans believe Obama wants to invade Texas—I recall when the Marines were training on the streets of Chicago. Nobody panicked here, probably because we don't hate and fear our own government, nor live in hallucinatory dread of the government seizing our beloved guns. I covered the story, and got on so well with the Marines that they invited me to Camp Pendleton to observe their From the Sea training exercise, which was a blast. You miss out on a lot of life if you're cowering in the basement, fingering your weaponry security blanket and counting your cases of freeze-dried food. Of course this occurred in the late 1990s, which seems, at least from the perspective of today, a less fearful time.

Marines land here to study for urban battles of future

     About 80 U.S. Marines begin urban battle training in Chicago today, but don't expect any leathernecks to wade ashore at Oak Street Beach or set up bivouac under the Picasso at Daley Plaza.
     Rather, the Marines, mostly officers out of 1st Battalion, Eighth Marines, from Camp Lejeune, N.C., are studying the city's infrastructure—the bridges, tunnels, subways, electrical system, sewers, water treatment plant, communications—to help guide the formation of 21st century city combat techniques.
     "This has to do with decision-making," said Lt. Col. Jenny Holbert, a public affairs officer for the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory in Quantico, Va., which is running the visit. "How do you change the way Marines make decisions in urban settings as opposed to open, unconstrained battlefields?"
     The experimental project, Urban Warrior, is the second phase of a two-part program that began in 1995 with Hunter Warrior, which looked at fighting in open rural spaces. Urban Warrior began last summer and will culminate next year.
     With forecasters predicting that 70 percent of the world's population will live in cities by 2020, the Marines are preparing for future battles taking place in foreign cities.
     Chicago is the first city to host the Marines as part of Urban Warrior. New York City, Jacksonville, Fla., and Charleston, S.C., will hold events this year. The project will end with a mock battle in an undisclosed West Coast city.
     In New York, the Marines will be exploring what is called "cross-canyon mobility."
     "How do you move from the 12th floor of one skyscraper to the ninth floor of another and do horizontal resupply," Holbert said. "We're working with the British Royal Marines and the Dutch Marines on that."
     Not only are the Marines here to learn, but in return they will be telling city officials about military techniques that might be helpful in civilian emergencies.
     "We've been working on some projects we think might be of benefit to the city," Holbert said, citing a new communications technology that allows soldiers to talk from one room to another in hardened buildings. "That might have direct applications for firefighters."
     Holbert said the Marine Corps had no difficulty arranging the visit with the city.
     "They've been absolutely wonderful," she said. "I don't think we could have picked a better city. They have really opened the doors to us and really helped us a lot. We're really going to be able to get a lot of information about how a very complex city works."

                        —Originally published in the Sun-Times, May 5, 1998

32 comments:

  1. Wonder if any of the lessons learned in the late '90s were applied--or applicable--in our 21st century wars. Baghdad, Fallujah, etc. Follow up!

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    1. I remember reading the Marines' Warfighting Manual on the plane to San Diego and thinking how smart it was. So I would bet yet, at least on a low-level, tactical side. If you're asking whether politicians learn, well, the question answers itself.

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    2. Reminds me of what was said of the Hapsburgs: they never learned anything and they never forgot anything.

      John

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    3. That's a good line; I'm going to have to remember that. Thanks.

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    4. Actually, it was said of the Bourbons, by Tallyrand: “They have forgotten nothing and they have learned nothing,” But you're in good company: Prime Minister Gordon Brown made the same mistake (Hapsburgs for Bourbons) in 2010.

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    5. This is a good place to point out that I'm so old that I remember liberal conspiracy theories about military exercises:

      http://reason.com/blog/2015/05/01/friday-av-club-im-so-old-i-remember-when

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    6. yes, the super left is no prize either, especially those former hippies or college demonstrators

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  2. Unrelated question for our Divvy enthusiast...In New York, women make up just under a third of the membership for the bike-share program, and persuading more to join is seen as vital to its success.
    Do we have the same issue in Chicago?

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  3. Probably cause the ladies working in the big city in high heels, not so easy to bike then or in skirts.

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  4. With the southern mentality in general, it doesn't surprise me of their concerns of military maneuvers. I guess they are still mad the fed. govt had to teach them lessons the hard way in the Civil War days and in the 50's and 60's Civil rights era. Nor do they ever seem to admit to being in the wrong or to see why Federal power is needed. I've heard of what they were writing a few months back on those tea party or other conservative sites. And know of some northerners who moved there, who often scarcely can't say a liberal word if they want their neighbors to be friendly. I knew one older southerner personally who said she was in shock when she actually had to sit behind a black person on a bus.

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  5. Mr. S, you are lucky you can read on a plane. I can't even if I take Dramamine or would become ill. Can't sit and watch the movie screen for long either. So, Im like that guy in Seinfeld that has to star ahead for the flight.

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    1. stare not star

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    2. That sounds awful, especially on a longer flight. Have you ever tried a prescription patch?

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    3. I did on a ship once, that makes one too drowsy, at least dram. you can get in less drowsy formula, luckily I don't have super long flights

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    4. thanks for the thought

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. See Mr. S, aren't you sorry you didn't join the military yourself?

    They are prob thinking how much less humid it is here and cooler, then in NC.

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    1. meant than not then

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    2. "Sorry" would be overstating the case. But I do see much more value in it than I did when I was of the age that would join.

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  8. Perhaps a little more paranoia may be in order when our government deploys troops in civilian areas. Back in 1970 four students were killed by National Guardsmen at Ohio's Kent State College. It seems to me a strange coincidence that in a college where Jewish students are a minority, three of the four fatalities were Jewish students, not participating in the protest, but on their way to the next class.

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    1. It does? I'd say that statement says boatloads about you, and nothing about the subject at hand. This blog receives a lot of nuttery, but suggesting that the National Guard fired on the students at Kent State in order to kill Jews, well Bernie, I feel like we should establish some kind of trophy, the Bernie Farber Award for Skewed Worldviews, or some such thing.

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    2. But Bernie those students were also throwing at the Guard and a shot was fired then mayhem broke out. Not saying the kids should have been shot but Guard wre there for a reason. A lot of those demonstrators were out of line then. And I never heard that they were Jews or that the N. Guard was going after them or looking for excuses.

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    3. coincidence, Bernie

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    4. Jeez Neil, lighten up! As I recall the observation was made years ago by a professor in a political science class at UICC, partly in jest, The point he was making was soldiers are not trained for purposes of crowd control

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    5. You want me in a better humor, Bernie, hone your delivery. Your masterful light touch was lost on me, and I just thought you were sounding like an idiot. My fault entirely. Apologies all around.

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  9. It's called UIC Bernie and has been since the mid 80's. Sounds like one of those radical college prof. to me. Luckily, when I went there to grad school they weren't so radical anymore.

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    1. And the Natl Guard has often done crowd control, without a problem. I bet your prof was one of those radical,draft card burners in SDS or something.

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    2. That was Prof. Milton Rakove, hardly a radical. He was a master of explaining the nuts and bolts of operating a political campaign. He stepped through Nixon and Donald Segretti's techniques, explaining these are not a proper way to run a campaign, more in the vein of know your enemy. All too often students would sidetrack the lectures with topical questions. He felt Nixon's character flaws set the stage for the anti-war protests, and how they played out.

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    3. Well there were anti war protests in Johnson's time too.

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  10. I see a statue of a Japanese, warrior from the middle ages, Samurai times perhaps in the new pic?

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    1. Yes you do. Foreshadowing for tomorrow.

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  11. This is by far one of the best party hotel nyc to hang with friends, have great drinks (amazing beer selection), eat some great food, including the great lunch I had there. Prices are very reasonable and the pizza was awesome.

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Thanks for commenting. As soon as I vet your remarks, they'll be posted, assuming they aren't, you know, mean and crazy.