As a member of the Profession of Arms I find the situation in Missouri disgusting.  What makes me even more disgusted is the idea that these goons represent what a "militarized" police for looks like.  It does not.  Soldiers are not police and they make very bad police when the are asked to be.  But they are professionals.  They follow orders.  They take responsibility for their actions.  They practice restraint and discrimination (the good kind).  And when they fail to do so they are held accountable.

More below the orange barrier.

As others have pointed out, the police in Ferguson are doing things soldiers cant.  When I was in Afghanistan I had to get permission from General Petraeus to use CS.  I wasnt going to get it. Ever.  Even the use of HC smoke was closely controlled because of the potential for choking when used in confined spaces.  

As Adam Weinstein said in his excellent Gawker article, nothing going on in Ferguson is in accordance with the Army's manual on civil disturbances - ATP 3-39.33:

Successful outcomes that follow civil disturbance situations are based on proper planning, Soldier and equipment employment, and on-the-ground decisions that are made by leaders and members of the control force who are face-to-face with an unruly, or potentially unruly, crowd. ATP 3-39.33 discusses and describes the techniques that are used by Army forces who are conducting civil deterrence or response missions to civil disturbances.

In the past century, there have been countless examples of civil disturbance situations around the world. The size and scope of these civil disturbances varied from small gatherings of people who were verbally protesting to full-blown riots that resulted in property destruction and violence against others. Over the past decade, law enforcement and professional experts have come to understand crowd dynamics. A better understanding of human behavior and crowd dynamics and technological advancement has led to improved responses to crowd control. .

And what are some of those crowd dynamics?
History has shown that people everywhere demand to be treated fairly and want their grievances to be heard to right their perceived or real wrong. Often, U.S. forces have to respond to this type of situation and must know how their actions or inactions can affect the potential for threats
Imagine that, being treated fairly and wanting your grievances heard.

But how does a group wanting to be heard becomes something else?


The two-crowd theory is based around the belief that at civil disturbance events there are two crowds present, one is civilians that have gathered (protesters, agitators, on-lookers) and the other is the uniformed personnel (control force, law enforcement officials).
According to the two-crowd theory, the outbreak of violence is not due to aspects of the contagion theory, but instead due to the action, reaction, and counteraction of both crowds that are present, known as circular reaction.

According to this theory, the blame for violence must be shared between the gathered crowd and the control force. It states that the actions and reactions of the control force play a significant part in the levels of violence that occur and places the blame on law enforcement. Therefore, leaders and members of the control force must be fully aware of their actions, reactions, and behaviors and how they affect the gathered crowd and its participants’ actions and behaviors.

Emphasis mine.

Let me say something about the officers pointing weapons at civilian crowds - If I did that or allowed my soldiers to do that I would have been relieved on the spot.  You don't point a weapon at anyone unless you intend to fire.  The progression for dangerous interactions is Shout, Show, Shoot - Shout in a commanding voice what you want the subject to do or stop doing. Show that you are armed and have the capacity to inflict lethal force.  Shoot.  No warning shots and no shooting to "wound."  You have to make them understand that you are dead serious and their actions have lethal consequences.  That may sound drastic but it is actually the opposite.  Pointing a weapon at someone is a lethal act.  By doing it when (presumably) they have no plan to use lethal force you desensitize both sides.  The "shooters" get used to using lethal weapons in a non-lethal way.  It becomes one more tool not the last resort.  The "shootees" get used to having weapons pointed at them and no longer respect the lethal consequences represented by the act.   It leas to something that should be the absolute last thing becoming a first option.  For the police they have lost what should be their ultimate last act before using deadly force.  That last chance for the person to decide to be compliant.  The population is so used to having guns pointed at them it no longer modifies their behavior.  I will tell you this, even in Afghanistan I never had to progress past show.  A population that had been in a near constant state of war for over 30 years still respected what they knew was the last straw.  What does that say about the situation in Ferguson?

While not everyone here (and sometimes not me) would agree, the military absolutely demands accountability.  Were this a military operation a LEADER would have been in charge.  A LEADER would have decided when to employ force.  A LEADER would have been responsible for the outcome of that decision (Read "The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education" for an example of how LEADERS struggle with these decisions).  When we create new units we use the DOTMLPF standard - Doctrine, Organization, Training, Material, Leadership, Personnel, Facilities.  Ferguson police failed in all but the last.

The police in Ferguson are not militarized.  They may have military toys but that just makes them well equipped.  The lack of leadership, doctrine, training and discipline combined with tensions on both sides made the actions of the last few days a predictable result, not a tragic accident.  

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