A joint exercise of Fort Bragg special operations troops and sheriff’s deputies in Richland County, South Carolina that’s due to wrap Friday has set the Internet on fire, with bloggers and watchdogs – already upset with the looming Jade Helm 15 military training mission set for seven states this summer – decrying what they perceive as a Posse Comitatus violation.
The Posse Comitatus Act was passed in 1878 to limit the federal government from using U.S. military forces to enforce laws against American citizens. As one blogger at D.C. Clothesline wrote, though: Many are concerned recent and upcoming military training exercises that pair the federal forces with civilian police officers are treading dangerously close to that Posse Comitatus line.
“The fact that the police and military are engaging in joint drill exercises in violation of Posse Comitatus and a long-standing American tradition of separation between domestic policing and military activity is concerning,” the blogger wrote.
The comments come in context of discussing a Fort Bragg-initiated special forces training with Richland County civilian law enforcement officials that began a week ago.
WLTX described the training this way: “Military and sheriff’s department vehicles will be traveling in the Lower Richland County community near Eastover and Hopkins … The sheriff’s department says people in those areas may also hear ordinance being set off or shots being fired. They say those will be simulations or blanks and do not pose a risk to the community.”
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WLTX also reported the sheriff’s department Special Response Team was tasked to partner with the 3rd Special Forces Group from Fort Bragg to stage simulated scenarios for the military. But Infowars reported a more startling scene.
In a report filed earlier this week, Infowars said: “Special forces out of Fort Bragg are training with SWAT officers in Richland County, South Carolina, this week for house-to-house raids, another unnerving sign of the militarization of domestic law enforcement. The late night and pre-dawn exercises … have been running since May 8.”
Infowars also posted a video from YouTube that claimed to be images of special forces conducting night raids in civilian spots in the county.
The Fort Bragg operation comes as social media posters are fueling fires about the upcoming Jade Helm, a special forces operation involving all four branches of the military, the FBI and DEA and various local law enforcement agencies in seven different states. Texas, Utah and portions of California have been deemed “hostile” zones for the purposes of this two-month training operation, set for this summer. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, in response to numerous citizen complaints, has alerted the state’s national guard to watch over the training and make sure nothing nefarious or unconstitutional occurs.
Some of Jade Helm’s sharpest critics say it’s a backdoor attempt to acclimate the American people for a federal declaration of martial law. Jade Helm operational authorities, meanwhile, have held several town hall and local meetings to calm the fears and inform officials: We’re just conducting necessary military training in urban areas to prepare our troops for overseas operations.
The Richland County-Fort Bragg joint training exercise was held last year, also. Then, Sheriff Leon Lott said that operation was crucial to helping deputies prepare for tragic situations that could occur in Columbia, the Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile, another video that’s recently surfaced shows a U.S. Marine training operation in Arizona from a month ago of troops chasing citizens inside a mock internment camp.
Infowars reported the exercise took place in Yuma, and involved Marines with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.