Are the Maryland National Guardsmen forced to play Security Theater?

I lost the Facebook post where I saw the warning originally, so kudos to whomever it was and my apologies.

Empty mag pouches?
Baltimore NG1

 
Empty magazine?
Baltimore NG2
I can’t tell, but I read comments that say they are not wearing body armor but only the mesh. The Ceramic Plates do seem to be missing.

There are stories from when Hurricane Andrew where a similar Rules of Engagement were applied and ended up with Guardsmen being robbed of their weapons.

But after how this whole week has been handled in Baltimore, I would not be surprised they have no ammo to go with their rifles.

25 Replies to “Are the Maryland National Guardsmen forced to play Security Theater?”

  1. Howdy Miguel,

    What they’re wearing is a load bearing vest (LBV), as opposed to the Interceptor Body Armor (IBA). LBV equals no protection at all. IBA with no plates protects up to 9mm and with plates protects to 7.62mm AP.
    The soldiers might only have rounds in the magazine in their weapons, if that. Most likely they are being used mostly for eyes and ears for police and to show a presence. That frees up officers for the more intense stuff.
    A friend of mine was an LEO during the Rodney King riots told me of an encounter where law enforcement had a house surrounded where a guy had been shooting from an upper floor window. A national guard infantry platoon arrived for support.
    SWAT Commander on scene went to the young infantry 2nd Lt. and told him they were going to enter the house to get the guy and to cover them. At this point I said, “Oh S#@%”, since I knew what was coming.
    Young LT yells to platoon, “cover them!” and man in the house got to experience the meaning of the cover, more accurately called suppressive fire. Rifle was thrown out the window and empty hands appeared.
    Needless to say, there was a difference in terminology at work. And when you throw a butterbar into the mix, no telling what can happen. I did wonder where the Platoon Sergeant was since they tend to act as the voice of common sense where 2 Lt.’s are involved.
    Civilian police though are often loathe to use the military in a role where they get live ammo.




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    1. As an MDARNG soldier who just got home from Baltimore, I can tell you that our unit did, in fact, carry live ammo.

      Since the operation is complete I see no OPSEC violation in describing our loadout.

      We were issued two magazines. One to be carried empty, the other loaded with 30 rounds M855A1.

      Our unit never used the empty mag. We just carried the weapon mag-less unless trouble/protests were anticipated at which time we closed the bolt and inserted the 30 round mag.

      Was this operation all security theater? Maybe. If the protestors/rioters knew how strict our rules of force were they might not have feared us at all. How do you react to brick-throwing rioters when all you have is an M4 and a radio? Answer: retreat and radio the cops.

      Everyone I worked with was keenly aware of the necessity to avoid a Kent State repeat.

      But, Baltimore’s troublemakers have been mixing it up with cops all their lives. They know what cops can and cannot do. The National Guard, however, was an unknown to them and the protestors generally moved to avoid anyone in ACUs.

      So maybe our presence was a valuable deterrent. Or maybe not. Who knows.

      That’s 5 days of my life I won’t be getting back.




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      1. Howdy Joe,
        Glad you got home healthy and just a bit frustrated. I’m honestly glad that the uncertainty of your rules of engagement resulted in you being kept at a distance. Being an unknown quantity can have its advantages.
        In regards to Kent State, the last time I commented on the event, everyone looked at me like I was talking about a football game. Totally clueless. Think the old Partridge Family series when Shirley Jones mentions a music group and everyone looks at her and says, “who?”




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        1. Further to last post,

          I did see some soldiers in Baltimore with the FLC/LBV (lucky !@#$s). Most everyone else was required to wear an IOTV with SAPI plates. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps it justifies the budget for such items. I never saw a single report of a rioter/looter with a rifle.




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  2. Never trust a butter bar with a rifle or a compass and map. I also remember the aftermath of hurricane Andrew and going thru the NG checkpoints at Kendall Drive and 147th ave and was thinking to myself these soldiers are sitting ducks.




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  3. The MDNG was not empowered with the law enforcement powers that include the use of deadly force.

    Next question, please.

    stay safe.




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    1. I understand that, it is part of the Posse Comitatus Act.

      I was Guard, and when we responded to floods or tornadoes, sure there was no reason to carry firearms. It was a little offensive and overbaord when all weapons were collected and they took away our personal Leatherman tools and pocket knives.

      But under the current situation it is a stupid policy. There have been shootings throughout Baltimore and what happens when the Guard finds itself fired upon?

      At least hand out some shotguns with bean bags or some of those fancy FN 303s.

      “You’re gonna put your life on the line to protect this community, but you can’t even have a blunt object to defend yourself personally against people who are threatening on twitter and Facebook to kill you” is not an order that I would ever want to give.




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      1. Just to clarify – Posse Commitatus does not apply to NG when activated by the Governor – it would apply if the NG was federalized by the President. Same for other states’ NG units sent as “mutual aid”.

        But in either case there would need to be a declaration of assignment of police powers. Otherwise they can direct traffic, write tickets, and dial 911 for help if anything bad happens in their AO.

        stay safe.




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        1. I know this would be very controversial, but It might be a good idea to add some police training to some guard units so that when they get activated for “civil unrest” they can do more than provide a visual deterrent. Effectively make the Guard a State Police Auxiliary. After Baltimore and Ferguson, if you are going to bring out the Guard they need to be more than warm bodies.




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    1. I noticed the patch too. However the 28th Infantry Division has units in Maryland also. This isn’t unusual in national guard units.




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    1. A Second lieutenant, so called for their rank insignia of a single gold bar. They are notorious for thinking they know far more than they really do.




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  4. During the first gulf war, we did roving guard duty around our Kaserne in Berlin wearing full battle gear with no ammo. We were a “visual deterrent.”

    This does not surprise me at all. We had a phrase to describe things like this: “Army stupid.” It’s a special kind of stupid one cannot understand without having served.




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  5. I’ve read many stories from the 70s on of military personnel guarding bases and what not or being deployed and tasked with similar roles being issued weapons and no ammo or half a magazine or 3 bullets etc. Many time with the restriction that the gun is unloaded and magazine out until it is needed.

    The notable exception was airfoce security services (forgive me if the name is not correct). They were rolling around with full gear and loadouts because they were guarding missiles, planes, or secret things and/or acting as qrf.

    So that said, especially in terms of crowd control, I’m not surprised they don’t have ammo.

    I’ m also not sure its a bad thing in all situations. Bad for the individual soldier who can’t protect themselves, good for society as we don’t want to see soldier deployed offensively on domestic ground. But then there is the fact the are purposefully made leas effective than they can be to stop a bunch of violent oppurtunists and rioters. It’s a tough line to walk and maintain the right balance.




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    1. I’ve read many stories from the 70s on of military personnel guarding bases and what not or being deployed and tasked with similar roles being issued weapons and no ammo.

      Marine Barracks, Lebanon. That went well, didn’t?




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      1. At least that was recognized at terrorism from the beginning, by the time they got around to Ft. Hood, the politicians in charge were just adding insult to injury.




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  6. When i was in the Marines, (73 to 77) when we walked guard, we had 1 mag with 5 rounds. We were also told that if we fired a round, we had better have a dead body to go with it. Being the smartass I’ve always been, I asked if we fired all 5 rounds if we would need to produce 5 dead bodies.




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    1. “Being the smartass I’ve always been, I asked if we fired all 5 rounds if we would need to produce 5 dead bodies.”

      How many pushups did that get you? ;-))




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  7. There’s an easy way to get around Posse Commitatus, but it won’t be considered by most modern politicians: call out the unorganized militia! Because they aren’t National Guard, they won’t be official government actors, and they would be free to bring whatever weapons they deem fit.

    Of course, we’re talking about Maryland, here, which if I recall correctly, is more on the anti-gun side…

    That, and if you try to call out the unorganized militia, and then tell them to leave their ammo at home, I’d be surprised if anyone would respond….




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  8. My younger brother was in the California National Guard during the Rodney King riots. His unit was deployed and we’re not given ammunition. As a squad leader he(against orders)brought along some 200 rounds of ammo that he carried in his own weapon and two or three of his most trusted team members. He was actually okay with the general order of not allowing ammo to be distributed. He witnessed a few high stress incidents where he realized his unit was not sufficiently trained for this and probably would have lost control and put the general community at huge risk.




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