Operation "Urban Warrior"
The Howard Government's "shoot to kill" legislation was passed last week. The legislation gives the military wide powers that could be used during industrial disputes and against legitimate civil protests. As Greens Senator Bob Brown commented, "this bill is open to abuse". The new legislation, which would give the military "shoot to kill" powers with immunity from prosecution, was opposed in the Senate by Greens Senator Brown and the Democrats. The trend towards military involvement in civilian life is not unique to Australia as VERA BUTLER explains: As the world marches into the new century, there is a growing realisation in the US military that there will be an increase in the type of military operations which have come to define the latter portions of the 20th century — "urban operations". Although the US military for the most part continues to train, organise and equip itself for operations outside of cities, against a conventional foe, there is a growing element among the forces which sees the imperative of training, organising and equipping for the most likely combat environment, "the urban battle space". Col. Randolph A Gangle, US Marine Corps (ret.) Among the US military it is primarily the Marine Corps which concerns itself with urban warfare. Since mid-1995 a Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) was established in Quatico, Virginia, with the task of developing improved capabilities and skills. A two-year phase of experimentation was initiated, designated "Urban Warrior", which involved a number of allied nations, foremost Britain, but also Australia, Canada, Holland and France. "Urban Warrior" was conducted at various US Marine bases and cities throughout the United States. The stated purpose was to improve urban warfighting capabilities while reducing friendly casualties, including non-combatants, and collateral damage. Subsequently training proceeded in the cities of Chicago (Ill.), Jacksonville (Flo.), Charleston (Sth Car.), and the Californian cities of Monterey, San Francisco, and Oakland. Significant progress was made in a variety of technical areas, but none was achieved in the reduction of friendly casualties. The average friendly casualty rate in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, was approximately 30 per cent. Casualty rates for "Urban Warrior" stood at 40 per cent — perspectives for the civilian population appear grim. Crime, insurrection, revolution What is the rationale behind this planning for urban warfare contingencies? At the end of last century, the world's population stood at six billion. Demographers forecast that this figure will increase to eight billion by 2025. At the same time there is a growing movement from rural areas into cities. According to United Nations projections by 2025 there will be more than 500 cities with one million inhabitants, and 30 cities with over 15 million — many of them in Third World countries. It is argued that such mega-cities in Third World countries, corrupt and without job prospects and facilities to accommodate population increases, are the breeding place for discontent, criminality, revolts, and revolutions. Such examples as Rwanda, Kosovo, Croatia, Lebanon, Liberia, are cited, where American and allied forces had to be committed to maintain peace. "Be prepared." But is that all? The passage through the House of Representatives, on June 28 2000, of the Defence Legislation Amendment (Aid to the Civilian Authorities) Bill, with broad consensus between Government and Opposition, appears in a different light when seen in the context of Australian participation in the urban warfare training programme by the US Marine Corps. What if preparations are under foot to counter future civil commotion in Australian cities? If so, the Olympiad, or the "threat" of demonstrations against the World Economic Forum in Melbourne, on September 11, are no more than convenient "explanations" for an empowering legislation with far-reaching applicability. At the moment the trade union movement is justifiably concerned with the prospect of the Armed Forces getting involved in strike-breaking actions — and one can hear Peter Reith sneering in the background. But what if we are standing at the threshold of a global economic crisis that would destroy the wealth and jobs in the developed industrial nations of North America, Europe, and Australia? The Asian "melt-down" of 1997/98 was a foretaste, and there are ominous signs that the speculative hysteria which is driving stock exchanges and currency futures to unprecedented heights, will collapse with a whimper, leaving millions of people without jobs and bankrupt government treasuries. Are the forward planners among the political, economic, and military elites of the New World Order determined to prepare for contingencies, regardless of potential "collateral damage", to meet any attempts at insurrection head-on? The first step is to provide a pseudo-legal basis for the enforcement of law-and-order with military means, if need be. As the boy scouts say: — "be prepared!"