On November 17, U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) concluded Vigilant Shield 09 (VS09), described in a press release as a training exercise focused on "homeland defense and civil support."
Launched by President Bush in 2002 in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, NORTHCOM has been mired in controversy since its creation. Among its more dubious accomplishments were illegal domestic spying operations in conjunction with the Pentagon's shadowy Counter Intelligence Field Activity unit (CIFA) that targeted antiwar activists.
Despite CIFA's shut-down and the alleged dismantling of its TALON database (now incorporated into the FBI's Guardian Threat Tracking System), SourceWatch revealed that "in accordance with intelligence oversight requirements, the DoD will maintain a record copy of the collected data." One can't help but wonder whether that "record copy" of TALON somehow migrated into a NORTHCOM database.
But the NORTHCOM-CIFA liaison wasn't the only episode of illegal military spying on Americans to come to light. In May, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Marines, including a Colonel and the co-founder of the Los Angeles County Terrorist Early Warning Center, stole top secret intelligence files from Camp Pendleton's Strategic Technical Operations Center.
Among the documents filched by the intelligence privateers were those marked "Top Secret, Special Compartmentalized Information," the highest U.S. Government classification. The files included surveillance dossiers on the Muslim community and antiwar activists in Southern California.
Before being run to ground by investigators, the spy ring regularly received and disseminated secret files and surveillance reports transmitted by Lauren Martin, a Navy reservist who worked as an outsourced intelligence analyst at NORTHCOM headquarters in Colorado Springs. Martin was responsible for the region that included Southern California.
Details on VS09 are few and far-between. However, according to U.S. Northern Command News, VS09 "included scenarios to achieve exercise objectives within the maritime, aerospace, ballistic missile defense, cyber, consequence management, and counter terrorism situations."
The training exercise ran concurrently with "other Department of Defense-sponsored and international exercises to more realistically test the synchronized response of federal, state, local and international mission partners in preparation for homeland defense, homeland security and civil support missions in the United States and abroad."
A November 5 press release described that the concurrent exercises included "U.S. Strategic Command GLOBAL LIGHTNING 09 and BULWARK DEFENDER 09; Canada Command DETERMINED DRAGON; California National Guard VIGILANT GUARD; and the State of California GOLDEN GUARDIAN."
Global Lightning 09 is a plan to use nuclear weapons in the event of a surprise attack while Bulwark Defender was described by Matthew Rothschild in The Progressive as the Pentagon's "cyberspace protection outfit."
California's Vigilant Guard and Golden Guardian were state-wide training exercises that concluded November 18 around planning for a catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake along the San Andreas fault. If so, this would be an appropriate training venue for the California National Guard. Why then, fold disaster preparations into a planning scenario for the use of nuclear weapons in the event of a "surprise attack"?
Described as a "Command Post Exercise (CPX)," many of the forces involved were "notional," in other words, real units and their equipment "were not deployed from their home bases."
However, the rapidly expanding role of the U.S. military in "domestic civil-support operations" and the breadth and scope of NORTHCOM "training exercises" are troubling, to say the least.
In September, Army Times revealed that the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT) was deployed October 1, under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, "the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks."
As Army Times noted, the BCT's "new mission" is the first time "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."
Perhaps a disturbing harbinger of things to come, "military support" of "civil authorities" arises precisely during a period of extreme systemic crisis not seen since the Great Depression and points to the rapid expansion of an "emergency preparedness complex" as a discrete operational division of the U.S. National Security State.
National Exercise Program: "Emergency Preparedness" or Martial Law?
more at the link as well as many embedded links...