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US Army unit deployed to home front

Nonlethal force for civil unrest

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A US army brigade combat unit will be deployed at home for the first time, the Army Times reports.

The 1st BCT (Brigade Combat Team), numbering about 650 personnel, has returned from Iraq. But rather than dealing with enemy combatants, it may be called to deal with unruly Americans.

The Team "may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack."

The troops will be testing "a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities" for the first time. The BCT will be based in Georgia, the paper reports.

The Posse Comitatus Act forbids the use of the US military at home. So the task of dealing with domestic "emergencies" has been the role of the National Guard, for whom there is an exemption. But the demarcation has blurred in recent years, with the National Guard called up to bolster the military occupation of Iraq.

October is traditionally the month of surprises in the US political calendar. But this year, October has come early.

Your thoughts on this unusual deployment are welcome, by email here. ®

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