Paul Szoldra compares his experience in Afghanistan to what he's seeing out of Ferguson:
While serving as a U.S. Marine on patrol in Afghanistan, we wore desert camouflage to blend in with our surroundings, carried rifles to shoot back when under enemy attack, and drove around in armored vehicles to ward off roadside bombs.The same gear is being used on American streets because a monster was created in the defense industry and the monster must be fed. Since 1996, "the Department of Defense has transferred $4.3 billion in military equipment to local and state police through the 1033 program." Then the equipment was intended to help fight the war on drugs. With that much firepower in the hands of local police, it was only a matter of time before they began to be used in such obscene excess against Americans.
We looked intimidating, but all of our vehicles and equipment had a clear purpose for combat against enemy forces. So why is this same gear being used on our city streets? […]
In Afghanistan, we patrolled in big, armored trucks. We wore uniforms that conveyed the message, "We are a military force, and we are in control right now." Many Afghans saw us as occupiers.
And now we see some of our police officers in this same way. "The militarization of law enforcement is counter-productive to domestic policing and needs to stop," tweeted Andrew Exum, a former Army infantry officer.