Tag Archives: Military Equipment

White House Sets New Limits On Federal Distribution Of Military Equipment To Police

On Monday, the White House announced new restrictions on federal programs that supply local police forces with military-style equipment, after a report was released from President Obama’s “Task Force On 21st Century Policing.”

The Hill reported that after four months of study, a Cabinet working group tasked by President Obama has come to the conclusion that local law enforcement will be banned from acquiring eight categories of military supplies through federal funds, including “grenade launchers, tracked armored vehicles, armed aircraft, bayonets, and guns and ammunition of .50 caliber or higher.”

The Washington Post noted that other equipment, such as tactical vehicles, explosives and riot equipment, “will be transferred only if local police provide additional certification and assurances that the gear will be used responsibly.”

In order to obtain equipment including drones, Humvees and flash-bang stun grenades, Politico reported that local police departments will have to be approved by a civilian governing body, such as a city council, and they will have to provide a “clear and persuasive explanation for why the controlled equipment is necessary.”

Among other recommendations, the report from the task force suggested that research conducted to “evaluate the effectiveness of crime fighting strategies” should specifically look at the “potential for collateral damage of any given strategy on community trust and legitimacy.”

The report also recommended that law enforcement agency policies for training on use of force should “emphasize de-escalation and alternatives to arrest or summons in situations where appropriate,” and should “mandate external and independent criminal investigations in cases of police use of force resulting in death, officer-involved shootings resulting in injury or death, or in-custody deaths.”

The Department of Defense Excess Property Program, or the 1033 program, which supplies the military gear to local police forces, captured the nation’s attention in 2014, when local police in Ferguson, Mo. responded to protests, by using military-style equipment including armored vehicles and flash grenades, against American citizens.

While new limits are being set on the 1033 program, The Hill noted that the White House has “stopped short of eliminating the program,” due to the report’s claims that the equipment “enhances the safety of officers” who are responding to dangerous situations.

Investigative journalist Ben Swann discussed the root of police militarization in Dec. 2014, on an episode of Truth in Media. Swann described the federal program as one that “provides surplus DoD military equipment to state and local civilian law enforcement agencies for use in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations, and to enhance officer safety.”

Watch the full Truth In Media episode on the Root of Police Militarization:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsRV3y37qcs

Military Equipment, Lost by Pentagon, Turns up for Sale on Craigslist

According to a March 12 US Naval Criminal Investigative Service report published by The Intercept, Department of Defense officials misplaced equipment from a $750 million shipment of tools aimed at helping US soldiers track and disable improvised explosive devices. Some of the 32,000 sensitive, restricted pieces of equipment distributed through the program were only found after they were posted for sale on websites like eBay and Craigslist.

“Since 2009, some of this advanced hardware has been reported as missing and is actively being sold or discussed on the global market on a variety of websites,” said the report. The items, which include capabilities like night vision and thermal optic imaging, appeared for sale on 13 websites, including texasguntalk.com and sportfishermen.com, listed as equipment for outdoor activities like hunting and camping.

Jana Winter and Sharon Weinberger at The Intercept wrote that they “found an eBay listing from Dec. 2014 for one of the pieces of equipment listed in the the NCIS document — the OASYS-BAE Systems Universal Thermal Monocular; it was listed for sale in Dec. 2014 for $6,000, with free standard shipping. Another item, currently listed for sale, is a CNVD-T Clip-On Night Vision Device Thermal System; it is advertised for $16,599.00 in ‘new condition!'”

The NCIS report concluded, “NCIS asks for your help in identifying and recovering these items to keep foreign entities from exploiting the technologies in these devices and using them against the U.S. military, NATO allies, or civilian law enforcement personnel during the course of their duties.”

The US Navy’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, which acquires and issues the equipment, has been criticized in a 2012 Government Accountability Office report for its failure to oversee $18 billion in expenses. Military.com is reporting that the DOD is working on a downsizing plan for JIEDDO, complete with budget and personnel cuts, a claim which JIEDDO spokesperson David Small denied in comments to The Intercept.

Report: Former U.S. Officials Propose Supplying Ukraine with $3 Billion in Military Aid

On Monday, eight former United States senior officials issued a report proposing that the U.S. send $3 billion in military aid to Ukraine, after pro-Russian separatists ended a five-month truce and resumed fighting in Eastern Ukraine on Sunday.

The report, which was first released by the New York Times, urged the United States to send $3 billion in defensive equipment to Ukraine, including “anti-armor missiles, reconnaissance drones, armored Humvees and radars that can determine the location of enemy rocket and artillery fire.”

The contributors to the report include former U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO Ivo Daalder, former Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst, former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Jan Lodal, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe James Stavridis, former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and former Deputy Commander, U.S. European Command Charles Wald.

The report claims that a “stronger Ukrainian military” will increase the prospects for “negotiation of a peaceful settlement,” and will “make clear that the West will not accept the use of force to change borders in Europe.”

The Guardian reported that although the White House has “stopped short of providing military aid to Ukraine in order to avoid provoking Russia,” it has joined the European Union in putting a series of sanctions in place against Russia.

The New York Times noted that while the U.S. has not provided Ukraine with “lethal” military equipment, it has supplied “non-lethal” items, including “body armor, night-vision goggles, first aid kits and engineering equipment.”

According to Reuters, although NATO and Kiev “accuse Russia of sending thousands of troops to support the rebel advance with heavy weapons and tanks,” Moscow denies its direct involvement.

The New York Times reported that in addition to the eight former U.S. officials showing their support for sending arms to Ukraine, the idea has also garnered support from Secretary of State John Kerry, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Kerry is planning to visit Kiev on Thursday, to speak with Ukrainian officials.

TN State Senate Considers Bill to Ban Cops from Using Military Equipment

After a 2014 News Channel 5 investigation determined that officials in Tennessee had been abusing the US Department of Defense’s 1033 program, which transfers surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies, Tennessee’s GOP-controlled Senate is considering a bill that would ban cops in the state from owning or using military equipment. The bill, SB0039, was introduced by Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and states that “no law enforcement agency shall own or use a military vehicle, military aircraft, or military weaponry for law enforcement purposes.” The Tenth Amendment Center notes that the proposed law would also require all state and local police agencies to sell or destroy their existing inventories of military weapons and equipment before January 1, 2016.

News Channel 5‘s 2014 report noted that small law enforcement agencies, such as the McMinn County Sheriff’s Department, which received 5 military-grade weapons for each of its 31 officers, were stockpiling far more weapons than could conceivably be useful in violation of Department of Defense policy. Weapons like M-16s and M-14s fell into the wrong hands after they were stolen from police, and the son of a rural police chief was caught impersonating a police officer while carrying an M-16 that he stole from the 1033 program.

Mike Maharrey at the Tenth Amendment Center described some of the equipment that the bill would ban from use by police if it were to pass, “Banned military weapons include machine guns, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, anti-tank weapons, recoilless rifles, and crew-served weapons. The legislation also prohibits ‘military vehicles,’ defined as ‘a tactical armored vehicle obtained pursuant to Section 1033 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997.’ The bill specifically exempts some weapons, including magazine-fed, gas-operated, air-cooled rifles or carbines designed for semiautomatic or automatic fire and grenade launchers adapted for non-lethal rounds.”

SB0039 was introduced by Senator Kelsey on January 14 and currently awaits a committee assignment.

The Tennessee Senate’s bill comes at a time when politicos across the nation debate the militarization of law enforcement agencies, as many Americans were recently shocked by news footage of heavily-armored police in places like Ferguson, MO and Berkeley, CA engaging in military-style crackdowns on police brutality protesters who were angry over the officer-involved deaths of unarmed suspects Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Ben Swann recently released a Truth in Media episode looking into the root of police militarization. Watch his expose on the subject in the player, embedded below.