You can count us among the fans of Glenn Beck, but we do see a need to clarify--and correct--a report that aired on his radio program this morning.
Citing Army Times as a source, Mr. Beck said that the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division, based as Ft. Stewart, Georgia, will be assigned to U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) for the next year, as a rapid reaction force for potential terror attacks, natural disasters and civil unrest (emphasis ours).
Beck suggested that the move might be related to a pending financial collapse (something he's been preaching about for several months), or turmoil resulting from an extremely tight--and disputed--presidential election.
So far, we've found a couple of problems with this report. First, there's no evidence of the reported story on the Army Times website, or the sites of other publications in the Military Times family. We've asked our contacts at the publishing group if any of their papers are working on that type of story. As we write this, there are no indications that such a report is in the works.
However, there is a kernel of truth in Mr. Beck's report--as there are with many media rumors. Turns out that the referenced brigade combat team of the 3rd ID has been assigned to NORTHCOM, as part of domestic response force. But the mission envisioned for that unit is very different from what the radio host described.
From the NORTHCOM press release, issued earlier this week:
U.S. Northern Command gains dedicated response force
September 30, 2008
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- For the first time in its existence, U.S. Northern Command is gaining a dedicated force to respond to potential chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) incidents in the homeland.
"We are now building the first of three CBRNE Consequence Management Response Forces," said USNORTHCOM Commander Gen. Gene Renuart. "On the first of October, we’ll have an organized force, a trained force, an equipped force, a force that has adequate command and control and is on quick response – 48 hours – to head off to a large-scale nuclear, chemical, biological event that might require Department of Defense support."
Each CCMRF will be composed of three functional task forces – Task Force Operations, Task Force Medical and Task Force Aviation – that have their own individual operational focus and set of mission skills. Depending on the different mission requirements and the incident commander’s priorities, Task Force Operations, Task Force Medical and Task Force Aviation units would have varying roles and responsibilities based upon the type of catastrophe and the size of the geographical area. In USNORTHCOM’s first CCMRF, the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, assigned at Fort Stewart, Ga., will form the core unit of Task Force Operations.
NORTHCOM's Chief of Future Operations, Army Colonel Michael Boatner, emphasized that the task force will not perform domestic security duties, or similar functions:
“This response force will not be called upon to help with law enforcement, civil disturbance or crowd control, but will be used to support lead agencies involved in saving lives, relieving suffering and meeting the needs of communities affected by weapons of mass destruction attacks, accidents or even natural disasters.”
To his credit, Beck said he needed more information on the subject. Here's hoping he makes a few more phone calls, and gets the story straight.